Opening: 10 April 2010
Organizer: OCT Contemporary Art Terminal Of He Xiangning Art Museum
Curator: Dong Bingfeng, Du Qingchun, Huang Jianhong, Zhu Zhu
Location：Enping Street, Overseas Chinese Town, Nanshan District, Shenzhen
"Looking through Film: Traces of Cinema and Self-Constructs in Contemporary Art" is the first project in the country to research and compile Chinese video art history, aesthetics and creative concepts revolving around the idea of "cinema". This project consists of research, translation, essays, exhibitions and forums. Dong Bingfeng, Du Qingchun and Zhu Zhu are in charge of organization and planning for the Mainland China and overseas categories, while Huang Jianhong is in charge of researching and organizing information about Taiwan. Due to a lack of research materials, Hong Kong and Macao are not included in the scope of this research project.
The "cinema" aspect of "Looking through Film: Traces of Cinema and Self-Constructs in Contemporary Art" focuses on research into the four major fields of "narrative", "machine/mechanism", "experimental" and "culture". The segments of the exhibition are titled "Trajectories of Desire", "Machines/Mechanisms", "Linguistic Landscapes" and "Projecting Viewpoints". The exhibition consists of presentations of artworks by artists in China and overseas, as well as the Taiwan "inter-exhibition forums". These "inter-exhibition forums" are an attempt at "artistic action" through forum methods, and avoid the typical presentation and screening format of so many film art exhibitions, while also provoking the dual social significances of "film": the first is the relationship between the creation of film and cultural critique in reality, and the second is the use of forums to transform ideas in film into the scene for communication and connection between social groups.
The history of contemporary film art in Mainland China stretches back 22 years if we mark its beginning with Zhang Peili's presentation of his work 30x30 at the 1988 Huangshan Conference. Taiwan's history of film art can perhaps be traced back 31 years to the "Laser Painting Exhibition" held by poet and artist Hsi Muren in 1979. For both places, the rise of creative practices on a larger scale and with more complete concepts as well as the rise of exhibition areas began in the 1990s.
Artists in Mainland China and Taiwan have been using video, documentary film, cinema and internet tools in their creations on a wide scale since the 1990s, and they have developed many aesthetic experiences regarding visual presentation and exhibition methods. An especially prescient topic is the question of how to continually expand the vitality and expressive dimensions of the authoritative discourse mechanism of the highly politicized tool that is "cinema" in the midst of rapid economic development and changes in political openness. Looking at Taiwan's "new cinema" of the 1980s, and the "post cinema" (the encounter between cinema and contemporary art) and "re-cinematization" of the late 1990s as examples, we can see that the "alliance" between cinema and video art brought about a free, self-aware and highly enlightened mentality that was no longer stuck in the static fields of art and aesthetics so dominated by economics and politics but became connected to the wider realms of social reality, culture, internet technology and the politics of the body, engaging in broad explorations of the multidisciplinary and integrative foundations of artistic practice.
From this perspective, the importance of the initiation, organization and research planning for "Looking through Film: Traces of Cinema and Self-Constructs in Contemporary Art" is that it retraces the special history and aesthetic experience of Chinese contemporary film art creation through the lens of "cinema", seeks out the position of film art and considers how to "break out" from the control and domination of western film art history and mechanisms in order to develop new possibilities.
OCT Contemporary Art Terminal of He Xiangning Art Museum
April 10, 2003