EX: 1/30/2012
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2012.03.22 Thu, by Translated by: 顾灵
Possible Pleasure
Using Pipilotti Rist’s recent show as a counterpoint, Iona Whittaker asks where is the fun in Minsheng Museum’s video art retrospective?
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“Eyeball Massage” wholly reflected Rist’s ambition to intervene in customary “viewing rituals.” Where this retrospective charted her personal mission to change our experience of moving images, challenging the bilateral convention of cinema to place pictures and light above, below, onto and around her audience (she’d project onto our insides if she could), at Minsheng, the medium was definitely not the message. Visitors progressed through a dark display organised around time periods that inherently drew attention to narrative (yawn – are we there yet?), rather than to the experiential properties or potentials of video. Reviewing the show for LEAP magazine, Tang Lingjie called it  “conservative”(3), whereas theGuardian’s critic, a delirious Adrian Searle, deemed Rist’s exhibition “an environment”(4). A few flashes of experiment with the mechanisms of seeing did appear within some of the early works at Minsheng: “Washroom” was projected onto the floor, “Sight Adjuster-3” (1996) by Shaohong Chen offered each eye its own screen at the end of a concertinaed extension from two TVs, and Goang-Ming Yuan’s 1995 video showed footage from inside a bird cage. But as the years — and the exhibition — unfolded, this impulse evaporated entirely. “Eyeball Massage,” was a product both of the artist’s intent to probe perception in her own way and the gallery’s willingness to animate its space (much as one critic might have criticised this as a staging of  “art for the crowd-hungry Kunsthalle”(5), to which, in this instance, so what?). “Moving Image in China,” on the other hand, was content with sedate linearity.

展览场景。 Pipilotti Rist: “眼部按摩”, Hayward 画廊。 “Selfless In the Bath of Lava (《忘我地熔岩浴》)(1994). [摄影: Linda Nylind]

So, a blithe circus of video from Pipilotti Rist in London, and a funless survey of Chinese art in this medium by Minsheng Museum; one show of moving image work sheds useful light on another (and vice versa, if you so choose). True, these are overarm observations, but responses to exhibitions — especially those in the same medium — need not always be insulated by their proximate contexts. It spoils all the fun.

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