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2011.11.29 Tue, by
Made Up Interview
An Interview with MadeIn Company founder, Xu Zhen
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“Action of Consciousness,” group exhibition by Madeln Company.

ShanghART Gallery & H-Space (Bldg.16 & 18, 50 Moganshan Road, Shanghai). November 13 to December 12, 2011. Opening: Saturday, November 12, 5 – 7:30 pm.

Chris Moore: Who is MadeIn, how does the company work, how are creative decisions made?

Xu Zhen: MadeIn Company is a method, an administrative structure, a way of playing; each employee of the company composes this system and the art director makes the decisions. 

CM: But why specifically a company instead of, for instance, a “collective,” a “government,” a “school”? Unlike other artists, you could choose anything and it would work.

XZ: The model of the company is a certain “limited democracy.” The model of the company isn’t perfect.

CM: That sounds like democracy itself but in what ways would you say it is not “perfect”?

XZ: “Perfection” is this piece of meat hanging in front of us that we are never able to eat.


“Divinity’s Posterior,” plywood, wood. “神的臀,” 三夹板、木头, 77 x 252 x 150 cm, 2011。

CM: MadeIn, what is good criticism?

XZ: Good criticism is like a good creation; it emanates inner flame.

CM: That sounds like magic — are you avoiding the question?

XZ: When criticizing you have to take yourself seriously.

CM: That may not help the critic. In fact, looking at MadeIn’s work, a critic who takes himself seriously might just as well be blind. Isn’t the critic allowed at least a wry smile?

XZ: It is hard to find a critic who has humor.

CM: True. Do I?

XZ: You are really humorous!

“Play — 1,” silicon, iron, cotton filling, hemp cordage, fur, feathers, shells. “玩 – 1,” 硅胶、钢铁、丝绵填充、麻绳、皮草、羽毛、贝壳等装饰品, 80 x 80 x 170 cm, 2011。

CM: Which if I were a very naive critic I might almost think was flattery! But let’s move on. You are often criticized for being very cynical or sarcastic. Do you consider yourself cynical or is this supposed “cynicism” just a type of sincerity, another way of speaking?

XZ: Cynicism can force oneself to present quickly a clear attitude and expectancy, because we are often very passive.

CM: So it’s simply a tool, a method to engage the audience to interact, to bring them out of their torpor? How would you say your first show, “Seeing One’s Own Eyes”, fits into this gambit?

XZ: As one of the methods to begin. “One of the methods” is very important, because you have to combine different methods, otherwise it would become very unitary. Even a good single method can be very dull. “Seeing One’s Own Eyes” was a series of works that combined cynicism, ego, exploration, digging, exploited differences and various other aspects. Viewers would unconsciously step into different ways or angles of observation to judge the artworks. It is an attitude that jumps across different cultures without staying in any one of them. We hope that viewers feel that they weren’t prepared for it because what they get is an experience that they probably don’t know how to use. This way, this artwork can be boring enough.

Detail of “Play — 1,” silicon, iron, cotton filling, hemp cordage, fur, feathers, shells. “玩 – 2,” 硅胶、钢铁、丝绵填充、麻绳、皮草、羽毛、贝壳等装饰品, 160 x 60 x 80 cm, 2011 (局部)。

CM: Great answer! You speak of “cynicism, ego, exploration, digging” and so on, as if they were types of media in themselves, not mere provocations—a common accusation of MadeIn—but non-unitary machines for thinking, that is, for provoking thought.

XZ: When provoking thoughts, one still needs to think—perhaps this is [the nature of] Sisyphus’s myth? Therefore, we also hope that this kind of behavior adds elements from comedy or farce as much as possible. On top of that, as a result of creativity, artworks indeed become media and multi-functional. And one must excavate their functions. Therefore, our company emphasizes its aim, which is “to produce creativity”, and not creating great works. This is probably the first step.

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