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Migrant Bird Space, Berlin(柏林候鸟空间)
2018.06.16 Sat - 2018.07.20 Fri
Opening Exhibition
Koppenplatz 5
Berlin, Germany, 10115
Berlin: +49 176 3155 3507 / China: +86 136 8113 7403
Opening Hours
Lu Mei 卢玫
Project Manager, Migrant Bird Space

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The Mercy of Not Killing 2.0
Migrant Bird Space & MO-Industries, Berlin
[Press Release]


Chenchenchen (陈陈陈, a.k.a. ccc, b. 1987) is a Chinese conceptual artist best known for his performance “The Mercy of Not Killing 2.0”, in which he hung ten construction workers from the edges of a 34-meter high tower in Wuxi. In his work, ccc often employs the human body to ponder the social conditions of modern society. Working in performance, digital art, painting and sculpture simultaneously, his multi-medial projects interact and constitute a series of parallel worlds. They are coherently arranged into ccc’s futuristic panorama of “Poor Sci-Fi”: a techno-dystopian vision derived from the struggles of everyday life. His work is smart and spectacular, addressing issues specific to Chinese culture while noting the individual ramifications of life in a globalised world. Where traditional values and norms seem suspended, ccc projects a humanistic vision, highlighting the positive powers of universal human values. Following ccc’s seminal presentation at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing in 2017 and numerous exhibitions in China, this is his first solo-show in Europe. On view will be interactive multimedia installations, large-scale photo prints and mixed media from two long-term bodies of work: “The Mercy of Not Killing” and “Possible Babies”. The exhibition is a joint project of the international art-agency & pop-up gallery MO-Industries and the gallery Migrant Bird Space, which has been shining a light on the best of Chinese contemporary art in Berlin and Beijing since 2015.

The Mercy of Not Killing is a series begun in 2016 with Chenchenchen’s performance at MING Contemporary Art Museum in Shanghai: grabbing on to a beam, he hung ten meters high above the main floor of the museum, suspended in mid-air for about an hour (MONK 1.0). The subsequent “Mercy of Not Killing 2.0” (MONK 2.0) was commissioned by the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. It was conceived and directed by ccc in February 2017 in Wuxi. In a setup that seems to derive from a classical action movie, ten construction workers held on to the rims of a former water-tower as though about to fall to their deaths. A circling drone documented their plight. The dire, dystopian outlook of these works raises questions about common humanism and universal connection, voluntary compassion and the suspension of brutality in everyday life. The monumental performance was presented as an interactive multi-media installation at UCCA’s seminal group show “The New Normal: Art and China in 2017”. ccc will recreate a site-specific setup for his solo-show in Berlin, while also adding new works to the series.

Artist Statement: “‘The Mercy of Not Killing’ depicts an interpersonal relation that is easily overlooked in nowadays society. It refers to a situation in which one individual restrains his will in various ways to avoid killing others around him. This mercy can be viewed as a joint positive power, generated by balancing a variety of forces that a human of modern society has to bear. A glamour of humanity beneath this social order will be ultimately unveiled. From its real life representations, the exhibited artworks are devoted to extract this delicate relationship for audiences to explore.” (Chenchenchen)

Possible babies originated from ccc’s ongoing exploration into “successology” and “genealogy”, topics particularly relevant to Chinese culture. The series began in 2012 and comprises a variety of media such as manipulated photography, digital design, painting, sculpture and, most recently, the video-game “Find Chenchenchen and Kill Him”, which was developed in conjunction with the art-project space “Wyoming Project” in Beijing in 2017. In an old-school virtual world reminiscent of the Counterstrike games of the early 2000s, the player interacts with ccc’s “possible babies”: the artist’s virtual offsprings, created in previous works. Amongst the plethora of ccc-lookalikes, the gamer has to find ccc’s avatar —the father figure— and kill him. The uncanny scenario opens up a multitude of connotations and issues: patriarchy, hierarchy and incest, cultism and collective consciousness and what the artist describes as a narrative of “benign narcissism.” In conjunction with MONK, “Possible Babies” continues the motif of virtual death.

POOR SCI-FI & Successology Chenchenchen’s conceptual approach to art covers a wide range of media: digital art, performance, painting, sculpture, installation and music. While each individual project has its own unique themes and is carried out by distinct means of representation, ccc’s artworks meticulously assemble into his main conceptual framework of “Poor Sci-Fi”: a science-fiction devised from normal life rather than from a glamorous utopian vision. ccc regards “Poor Sci-Fi” as an experimental construct generated from our common fears and primitive desires. An additional clue to ccc’s long-term research is “successology”, the study of the concepts and meaning of genealogy, success and successorship in the most literal sense of these words. These terms are of specific relevance in today’s China, where the one-child policy was only abolished as recently as in 2015. “Successology” is also the focus of Chen’s current PhD project at Capital Normal University, Beijing.