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Para/Site art space
2016.06.10 Fri - 2016.09.04 Sun
Opening Exhibition
22/F Wing Wah Industrial Building, 677 King’s Road, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong, China
+852 2517 4620
Opening Hours
每周三至周日 Wed-Sun 12:00-19:00

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That Has Been, and May Be Again
[Press Release]

10 June–4 September 2016 Curators: CHEN Li, Leo; and WU Mo
Artists: Chen Qiulin, Hu Jieming, Jiang Zhi, Leung Chi-wo, Li Jin, Li Jinghu, Liu Chuang, Liu Ding, Ma Liuming, Wang Youshen, Yan Lei, Zheng Bo, and Zhu Jia.

Para Site is pleased to present That Has Been, and May Be Again, an exhibition opening on 10 June and on view through 4 September. The exhibition is curated by Chen Li and Wu Mo. This is the second in a series of exhibitions working with emerging Hong Kong curators. That Has Been, and May Be Again includes new and existing works by Chen Qiulin, Hu Jieming, Jiang Zhi, Leung Chi-wo, Li Jin, Li Jinghu, Liu Chuang, Liu Ding, Ma Liuming, Wang Youshen, Yan Lei, Zheng Bo, and Zhu Jia.

This exhibition focuses on the consequently collective anxiety and unease in the 1990s following the failure of the student movement in 1989. This is a period of time that usually be described as “fractured”. With the evolution of Eastern Europe and the dissolution of the Soviet alliance, the practice of Socialism that already lasted for nearly a hundred years was halted. In the same year, Francis Fukuyama drew the conclusion that human society would eventually end in the form of Western democratic system. However, China didn’t collapse as other socialist countries, on the contrary, the economic reform led by the communist party involved China in the global economic circulation rapidly, and endorsed the legitimacy of the party’s ruling. To some extent, this fact just proved Huntington’s point of view in “the clash of civilizations” that it is the culture and economy, instead of the ideologies, will become the dominant factors that impact the international orders. In this context, for the first time, China was observed and given attention for its unique cultural values and economic potentials as a nation state, but not one ally of the socialism.

To China, the 1990s on the surface seems like a “fractured link” of the historical evolution, the previous (political, economic and quotidian) experiences were gradually losing their efficacy, the contemporary artists, who rapidly accomplished their modernistic transformation, thus had to seek or produce brand new experiences to adapt to the new social ambience. In this process, the tension between the outward globalization and the inward “modernism- post modernism” transformation began to manipulate the artistic production, circulation and institutionalizations. When the “1989 China Avant-Garde” exhibition ended as a farce, and the student movement ended up with a tragedy, the international art system and the immature domestic market became the only two options to realize personal values to the artists who still stayed in Mainland China. In addition, following with the translation and introduction of the concepts “curate/curator” in the 1990s, the contemporary Chinese art was given new significances and complexities.

Nevertheless, “internationalization” and “marketization”are not parallel, in a relatively perfect system of international exhibitions and academic evaluation, “internationalization” sometimes means the market recognition. “The logic of vanity fair”, accompanied by corresponding increased desires, impacted the perception, choice and practice methods of contemporary Chinese artists in an every aspect. That Has Been, and May Be Again is an attempt to outline the “desires” that lurked in the 1980s and appeared in the 1990s, as well as its legacy that impacted the art scene today. The essence of the “desire” is not limited to physical urge, but also refers to the awakening individual will, and the subsequently produced exploration of “authentic existence”. Being a confrontational approach towards the dominant position of the collectivism in China, “desire” thereby can be regarded as the fundamental motivation of Chinese artists to change mediums and methodologies, and to demand higher level of material and spiritual needs.

Most artworks in this exhibition were created in the 1990s, to represent various aspects of individual artistic practices in rapid social changes: artists are sensitive to the external stimulations from international art system and actively respond to it, they conducted non- official art exhibitions in “underground” status, and expressed their “nostalgia” towards personal histories in everyday life. Rather than trailing the footsteps of mainstream historical narrative, which was mainly constructed by “Political Pop” and “Cynical Realism” art, the exhibition hopes to present the complexity and ambiguity of art production in the 1990s China. On the one hand, Chinese artists made their passive resistance through art production; on the other hand, their self-imaginations of art market and international stage were inevitably showed in their artworks.

That Has Been, and May Be Again also intends to provide a continuous view of history. Young artists who are constantly paying attention to the related issues of social changes after 1989 are invited, not only to review the period of history after twenty years, but also respond to current realities. Their artworks reflect the covert origins of current social problems of China at the end of the 1980s, and re-examine the influences of their previous generation. The 1990s is never a fractured period of time, carrying the unrest and pain left from the 1980s, it still continues the impacts as well as developing new historical causations, in this regard, that has been, and may be again.

Ma Liuming, "Conversation with Gilbert & George", 1993.

Ma Liuming, “Conversation with Gilbert & George”, 1993.