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2013.01.30 Wed, by Translated by: Fei Wu
What is Doublefly Up To?

“Double-Fly The Way To Go! Sounds Like A Real Name,” Group exhibition with Shuangfei Arts Center

Vanguard Gallery (A204 bldg.4,50 Moganshan Road, Shanghai) Dec 20, 2012 – Jan 13, 2013

Over the past few years, Doublefly, an art collective made up of young artists of similar age and ambition, have popped up at various events related and unrelated to art. Occasionally they will arrive in outrageous get-ups, crashing art vernissages with their fanciful antics. Like a moving carnival, they disrupt the strict formality of exhibitions with their immature Jackass-style humor, flinging their excremental jokes and bawdy puns in the stern theory faces of the art world. In the most infamous of their exploits, Doublefly snuck into the reception following the opening ceremony of Art Basel: our young artists stood among the lovely waitresses with Champagne flutes, boldly stripped off their own shirts, and began simulating “bedtime activities” on the carefully manicured Swiss lawns. As you might expect, only one side derived any pleasure from the “act” that day. The lawns at Basel are soft, but the Swiss police are stiff. Doublefly painted the town red in their Chinese robes and pitched their tents on the streets of Basel for the night. In the end, their tents were confiscated by the authorities, and their antics were put to a stop. Worth pondering is what impression their footsteps might have left on the streets of Basel. Strip off their robes and wash off their makeup, what’s left is a hint of anxiety. In the wide world of art amid hushed European streets, where do their paths lead? Doublefly have made their mark in the photographic record of Art Basel, as though declaring, “One day, we will be here.” But even the most outrageous pranks cannot be repeated without losing their sparkle. How will Doublefly make their entrance the second time around?

Opening view, “Double-Fly The Way to Go! Sounds Like a Real Name”


Doublefly, “Heroic Bearing at Jiangnan Bank”


For this group of recently graduated young artists making their tentative way into the world of art, Doublefly is a pebble they’ve cast into the unknown realm of creative possibilities. The members of Doublefly include Cui Shaohan, Huang Liya, Li Fuchun, Li Ming, Lin Ke, Wang Liang, Sun Huiyuan, Yang Junling, and Zhang Lehua, all fellow students of the new media department of China Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou. After graduation, they scattered to different cities in China, including Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing, but they often meet up for events, and in 2008, began creating artworks under the name of Doublefly. Outside of their improvised performances, the members of Doublefly usually work in new media and photography. An example is their parody of iconic underwear commercials entitled:Doublefly Licensed Brand,” featuring a few obscure and not exactly fit young “actors” in their underwear striking provocative poses reminiscent of certain famous footballers. In 2009, donning pajamas and plastic sandals, Doublefly infiltrated the art scene at Three on the Bund and inspected the lay of the land with Hans Ulrich Obrist (one of the powers-that-be of the contemporary art world). Then, in one of their more recent forays, a few young lads of Doublefly turned the elegantly appointed rooms of Gallery Hotel into gymnasiums and spas. Finally, at the end of 2012, Doublefly was featured in a show at an actual gallery — a formal exhibition at Vanguard. At this show entitled “Doublefly, The Way to Go!”, the members of the collective defied expectations and actually contributed drawings that covered the blank walls of the gallery. Most members of the collective showed up at the opening, encouraging donations to art by selling raffle tickets in front of a donation box adorned with a maneki-neko, the ubiquitous waving cat found so often in restaurants and shops alike. Additionally, they sold copies on the cheap, reproduced on sheets of ordinary printer paper. The members of Doublefly live out their lives as an ongoing artistic endeavor. Naturally, their pieces reflect everyday life; at times brilliant, at times inane, but always relevant.

Doublefly, “AllStar Project”


Doublefly,“Doublefly Licensed Brand”

Their inspiration comes from the pervasiveness of the Internet and the rampant consumerism in contemporary Chinese society. In this epoch where weibo or tweets have more clout than state news broadcasts, where the spread of online slang moves across our culture faster than the influence of Nobel Prize-winning literature, the phenomena of shanzhai (knock-offs), parodies, memes, and “grassroots” (caogen) celebrities are avenues of self-expression and entertainment for a nation of individuals sorely lacking in individual liberties. Doublefly’s improvised creativity embodies the frenetic chaos of our time, and their puerile humor a reflection of their youthful lives, a release for an intense libido. Despite the crassness of their humor, what Doublefly brings to art is a sense of entertainment. When so much of the work being done is melancholic, self-absorbed, terrifying or frustrated, and when the predominant concept of what defines an artist is his “wounded soul,” these fearless young artists crash the gates and topple the status quo. In a deeper sense, the self-mockery found in Doublefly’s work actually ridicules the norms of adult society. Their obsession with the obscene and the infantile cloaks their feeling of cognitive dissonance and unwillingness to mature. So they take the pleasure of making art and release it by filtering it through the lenses of history, culture, and psychology. Lacan once likened the ecstasy and agony of the creative process to jouissance – a painful excess of pleasure, and this is a process each individual seeking to plumb the depths of his or her creative abilities must undergo.

Tent in Basel


Doublefly at Art Basel


Doublefly probably wouldn’t relish my attempt to analyze them, but perhaps these playful and artistic youths might have heard this quote by Confucius, loosely translated as “set your mind on the Way, but immerse yourself in the arts along the way.” Confucius attempted to transcend the mundaneness of secular life by seeking to expand the mind, but for these young people living in the 21st century, the pleasures they derive from their art are exclusively through an absorption in worldly matters. Seeing the infinite possibilities of the world spread out in front of them as they walk into the sunset, our young heroes turn to each other and ask, “Hey, what’s for dinner?”