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Thermocline of Art , New Asian Waves
Group Exhibition ZKM (Center for Art and Media), Karlsruhe, Germany
Date: 06.15, 2007 - 10.21, 2007

Artists: LU Chunsheng 陆春生 |  TANG Maohong 唐茂宏 |  YANG Fudong 杨福东 |  ZENG Fanzhi 曾梵志 | 

Thermocline of Art
- New Asian Waves -

?       Index
?       Exhibition Overview
?       Exhibition Theme
?       Exhibition Category
?       Curator & Artistic Director: Wonil Rhee
?       Director of ZKM & Co-Curator: Peter Weibel
?       Selection Criteria of Artists / Works
?       Symposium Panel

?       Exhibition Overview

● Title: Thermocline of Art- New Asian Waves

● Participating Artists / Countries:  
18 Countries Including Korea, Japan, China, India, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan

● Venue:
ZKM (located in Karlsruhe, Germany)
- Zetrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie
- Center for Art and Media

● Period:
June 9th, 2007 ~ October 21th, 2007
Symposium: June 9th ~ June 11th, 2007

● Curator:
Curator & Artistic Director: Wonil Rhee (S. Korea)
Co-Curator: Peter Weibel (Germany)
● Contributing Curators:

- France
Catherine David
(director of the Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, director of 10th Kassel Documenta 1997)
- Germany
Gregor Jansen (curator of museum of contemporary art, ZKM)
- China
Huang Du (independent curator)
Pi Li (independent curator)
Zhang Qing (deputy director of Shanghai Art Museum)
Biljana Ciric (curator of Shanghai Duolund Museum of Modern Art)
- Hongkong
Nicole Wang (independent curator)
- Japan
Yukie Kamiya (independent curator)
Maholo Uchida (exhibition development advisor)
- India
Nancy Adajania (chief editor of Art India)
- Singapore
Eugene Tan (independent curator, co-curator of Singapore Biennale)
- S. Korea
Jin-Seok Suh (director of Loop)
- Thailand
Ark Fongsmut (chief curator of Bangkok University Museum, BUG)

● Symposium Panel
Slavoj ?i?ek, Homi K. Bhabha, Jean Baudrillard

● Sponsors:
German Government
Baden Württemberg State Government
Karlsruhe City Government

?       Exhibition Theme

● Thermocline of Art - New Asian Waves

ZKM, one of the leading contemporary art museums located in Karlsruhe, Germany, presents an Asian contemporary art exhibition from June 9th until October 21th to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the institution. Under the title “The Thermocline of Art- New Asian Waves”, Wonil Rhee, the artistic director of this exhibition, will introduce about one hundred artists not only from East Asia, but also from South East Asia and Central Asia.
The thermocline indicates the area where the temperature of the sea dramatically changes. As the sea surface absorbs the heat, wind and waves circulate generating warmth in the ocean. Due to such a physical rule, we consider water to be warm and serene. However, this tranquility is deconstructed and shattered in the thermocline process.
This natural phenomenon implicates the current contemporary Asian art scene. “The Thermocline of Art - New Asian Waves” will be an opportunity to explore contemporary Asian art in depth. The influence of Asian art gradually expanded creating a new wave and transcending the dichotomy between western and non-western worlds. Through humanities, archeology, anthropology, and religion, the current Asia phenomenon such as coexistence between tradition and modernity, the confrontation between globalism and localism will be explored.

● Surpassing the Dichotomy Between Eastern and Western Worlds

Is there a standard Asian value agreed by everyone? What exactly is Asian identity? Each Asian country has their respective unique identities, yet these identities are constantly changed by external circumstances. Hence, it is difficult to merge and consolidate Asian identities into one.
By carefully exploring Asian history, especially conflicts between countries and experience of colonization, the different layers of the Asian identities are revealed, opening up the possibility to delineate what Asian identity is.

● Beyond the Post-colonialism

Most of East and South Asian countries share a painful history of being colonized. Since the modernization process of these colonized Asian countries was imposed by force rather than being a voluntary process, people suffered from confusion when they were liberated, and even faced situations of modernization being absent.
Expansion of globalism and changes in the Art scene in the 1990’s allowed Asian countries to open up and discuss and proclaim their newly constructed identity based on their localism. Asian countries overcame hardships and are now active and significant participants in the process of modernization.

● Why ‘Thermocline’?

Water has long been considered the source and the driving force of all things living in this universe. It flows everywhere, relieving thirst for what it touches. Water is the main element of a mother’s milk and life itself. Water purifies on its own, passing on to another world and deterritorializes where it dwells. All water in the world flows to the ocean, and regardless of where it has originated, whether it be from on high or down low from which it came, it ends in equilibrium.  
Thermocline is a stratum of seawater between the upper epilimnion and the deeper hypolimnion. The temperature sharply drops in this middle layer, caught between the eplimnion, kept warm by the sun, wind and convection, and the hypolimnion, where the temperature is at its lowest and pressure its highest. The unique features of the thermocline and its special place in the vast ocean make it a fitting symbol of interface between reality (as represented by epilimnion) and the universe (hypolimnion). This exhibition borrows from the distinct characteristics of thermocline to make a compelling presentation of contemporary Asian art.

● Thermocline and Contemporary Asian Art

One of the leading philosophers of the East, Laozi, expounded that people should live like water. According to Laozi, water does not contend(爭,Zheng), which means that it does not set the other as its opponent. Meanwhile, Hinduism, another important pillar of Eastern thinking, views respect for all things living as its key tenet. Its belief in more than one god makes it a religion of great power to absorb and embrace. The philosophy of Laozi and Hinduism exemplify the traditional spirit and thoughts of the Eastern world, in which is absent the dichotomy predominant in the modern rationality. It is true that such dichotomy has deeply penetrated the history of the East, but it originates from the modern Hegelian dialectics and the related concepts of an-sich and fuer-sich.    
The theme of this exhibition, thermocline, is the contact zone of the reality and the universe. Thermocline does not head to external purpose and it is a vast area, pervaded continuously by intensity and spanning across an unlimited expanse in a flexible manner. The intensity is not something that peaks then suddenly drops in this body of water. With consistent strength it creates powerful structures that can be connected to various points in space. Here, no dichotomy can take root, and the split between peace as opposed to war, institution as opposed to anti-institution, the West as opposed to the non-West, and the global and the local becomes meaningless.  

?       Exhibition Category

‘This characteristic of ‘thermocline’ has an affinity to the potentials embedded in Asia, the driving force with which contemporary Asian art survived and grew amidst the dramatic turns of modern history. The keywords representing the powerful potentials of Asia are self-purifying, dynamism and diversity, humor and satire, daily life and performativity. These make possible the birth of contemporary art of and by Asia.  
● Self-purifying Capacity and Historical Evolution: The rapid economic growth since modernization has created a singular time-space in Asia which is always under construction. The formative movements arising from the oncoming Western culture need the healing and self-purifying powers of Asian spirituality.  
● Dynamism and Diversity: The variety of ethnicities and religions of Asia make it impossible to conceive of Asia as a community of single identity. The unique cultures in the Asian continent have co-existed across ages.
● Humor and Satire: Parody and humor, rather than outright criticism of reality, foster mutual cooperation and create a wider forum for dialogue and cultural exchange.
● Daily Life and Performativity: Connection between culture and daily life is sought and questions are asked about how aptly the contemporary world is reflected. Completion is not the goal. The process itself is the work of art.

?       Selection Criteria of Artists / Works

● Breaking the Mold of Tradition
Selection of comprehensive genres covering all genres like painting, sculpture, installation, photo, media, selection of fresh expression form
ex.: use of multi-media by frequent use of painting/photo, sculpture

● Related to Expression of Form
Suggestion of Flexible Thought that fuses the Oriental and Occidental, and works showing traditional characters of Asia by using global and universal language
Elimination of artists/works with too much emphasis on their own social/political environment

● Asian Issue
Selection of works creatively expressing the rapidly changing/developing the Asian life with economic growth as compared to the West

● New Perspective
Selection of works that imitate the past/west, but also suggest the future path and concrete alternatives for the world art circle

● Emerging Artists / Works
Scout for hidden new artists/works with excellent artistry, those who have not had a chance of being introduced to the art circle so far:
eliminating over-commercialized artists/works

● From Various Countries
Scout for hidden artists/works in many of Asian countries including Southeast and Central Asia in the world art circle

?       Curator & Artistic Director: Wonil Rhee

The experienced and internationally known Korean curator who has actively directed many renowned exhibitions in and out of country

B. 1960 in Seoul, Korea
Worked in the field of Media Art and Asian Art
Completed in the master degree of Art History, New York University
Enrolled in the doctoral program of Art History, New York University

Curatorial Experiences
2006   Artistic Director of 4th Media_City Seoul Biennale, Seoul
2006   Co-Curator of 2006 Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai
2005   Curator of Grounding Reality-25 Young Chinese Artists,
Seoul Arts Center, Seoul  
2005   Artistic Director of ElectroScape, Zendai MOCA, Shanghai
2004   Artistic Director of Digital Sublime, Taipei MOCA, Taipei
2004   Co-Curator of LODZ Biennale, Lodz, Poland
Asian Section Curator of 5th Gwangju Biennale, Korea
2003   Chief Curator of Seoul City Museum of Art, Seoul
2000   Exhibition Team Manager of 3rd Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju, Korea
1999   Chief Curator of Sung-Kok Museum of Art, Seoul
?       Director of ZKM & Co-Curator: Peter Weibel

An early and eloquent champion of a theory of media and communication
Advocator of marriage of art and science

B. 1944 in Odessa, Ukraine.
Studied Literature, Film, Mathematics, Medicine, Philosophy in Vienna and Paris
Worked in the field of Cinema, Action art, Performances and Film
Lectured at countless universities in the US, Canada, Austria, and Germany

Curatorial Experiences
1999-          Chairman of the ZKM, Karlsruhe
1993-1999     Curator of the Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz    
1993-1999     Commissioner for the Austrian Pavilion of the Venice Biennale
1986-          Artistic Director of Ars Electronica

Lecturing Experiences
1989-1994    Director of Institute für Neue Medien, Frankfurt
1984-1989    Associate Professor for Video and Digital Arts, Center
for Media Study, Stated University of New York at Buffalo
1982-1985    Professor for Fotografie an der Gesamthochschule Kassel

?       Symposium Panel

● Slavoj ?i?ek
Slavoj ?i?ek (born March 21, 1949) is a Slovenian sociologist, philosopher, and cultural critic. He was born in Ljubljana, Slovenia (then part of Yugoslavia), and he received a D.A. in Philosophy in Ljubljana and studied Psychoanalysis at the University of Paris. In 1990 he was a candidate with the party Liberal Democracy of Slovenia for President of the Republic of Slovenia. ?i?ek is well known for his use of the works of Jacques Lacan in a new reading of popular culture. He writes on countless topics including fundamentalism, tolerance, political correctness, globalization, subjectivity, human rights, Lenin, myth, cyberspace, postmodernism, multiculturalism, David Lynch, and Alfred Hitchcock.

● Homi K. Bhabha
Homi K. Bhabha (born 1949) is a postcolonial theorist, currently teaching at Harvard University, where he is the Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of English and American Literature and Language. Bhabha He graduated with a B.A. from the University of Mumbai (Elphinstone College) and a M.A. and D.Phil. from Christ Church, Oxford. After lecturing in the Department of English at the University of Sussex for over ten years, he received a senior fellowship at Princeton University where he was also made Old Dominion Visiting Professor. He was Steinberg Visiting Professor at the University of Pennsylvania where he delivered the Richard Wright Lecture Series.

● Jean Baudrillard
Jean Baudrillard (born June 20, 1929) is a cultural theorist, philosopher, political commentator, sociologist, and photographer. His work is frequently associated with postmodernism and post-structuralism. Baudrillard worked as a translator and critic and continued to study philosophy and sociology. In 1966 he completed his Ph.D. thesis: ‘Thèse de troisième cycle: Le Système des objets’ (Third cycle thesis: The system of objects) under the tutelage of Henri Lefebvre. In 1972 he finished his habilitation ‘L'Autre par lui-même’. ('The Other, by oneself'.) and started teaching Sociology at the Université de Paris-X Nanterre as a professor. He continues to support the Institut de Recherche sur l'Innovation Sociale at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.

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