ShanghART H Space was remodeled into a plant garden by artist SHI Qing. Monuments in all shapes stand high in the garden.Mosquitoes and insects fly happily in grasses.Somebody comes in with a pet dog, somebody trips over a pot of Lysimachia christinae Hance and somebody takes a "Visit It" photo standing before transparent glass monuments.Someone thinks that the trihedral architecture in grasses is a stage, but SHI Qing tells us that is a converted monument.
SHI's past opuses will be included in each section of exhibition halls.He told me that all these opuses were carried directly from his studio and there is no "artwork" in exhibition halls.This is the crack between opuses in exhibitions and exhibition system.Something is bigger than opuses themselves.
ARTINFO:How does it come to you that using "All That is Solid Melts into Air" from Karl Marx as the name of your solo exhibition?
SHI Qing: Fashion(laughing). I saw a book named "All That is Solid Melts into Air" by an American scholar Berman Marshall at that time.So i borrowed the quote from Karl Marx in "The Communist Manifesto". Because i think it is appropriate for my solo exhibition. Actually, the background of this exhibition is more related to the modernist architecture.This is my doubt that the art history nowaday we see was cleaned up. When talking about the art at the turn of the century, we only get Dada, Duchamp and Surrealism, while those artistc events relating with social politics were never mentioned or just regarded as forms of medium and categorized into design.
These cultural practices in histories are indeed completed by architects and designers. But we can not look them as medium forms. This viewing is too narrow. Because they all relate with some big themes in the connection between art and society.Compared with the trend of radical thoughts, the art history finds its easy way out. The cultural movements against bourgeois way of life like Dada seems a breath of fresh air. These cultual practices cover art assignments and the relationship between art and new communities. The influence or shock of social division and alienation from industrial civilization is vivid and strong,which are weakened in artists' working and turn out a lack of fullness.
ARTINFO: In the exhibition hall,you work out clumpy pathways which people can walk through in and the architectures you made are like the monuments.
SHI Qing: Yes, we also can call them epic architectures.For example, El Lissitzky's "suspending metal" is known as a socialistic triumphal arch.At that time,suprematism in the Soviet Union pushed many campaigners go out of the Europe,many of whom then had direct influences on Bauhaus. Before and after the time, many art groups in Europe had done similiar things whcih were "bigger" things, not just opuses.Some radical ideas stated that the role of artists should be cancelled or merging the artists with architects. We see the climax of art in modern histories, while then art is always falling back,leaning to individuals,opuses and products.Boris Groys said things from that time just stepped back to accommodate with the present art system in the West world.Karl Marx also said, "All that is solid melts into ait."It referred to capitalism at that time, while today, those things which had ever been so closed to Utopia also come into ruins.
ARTINFO: Some weird words like Distijl except monuments in the exhibition hall, what do these words mean?
SHI Qing: These words are the art concepts raised by some radical art groups at that time. Now nobody uses these "dead" words. Getting these words translated doesn't aim to reproduce histories but to compare them with today's realities and meanwhile put our works in the historical context. There is a design in this exhibition:personal practices are being in the great history. Works in recent years are presented in the exhibition hall, including "Flower&Bird View of Proletarian", in which i look Chinese flowers and birds as the worldly Utopian models, ideal models that are far away from the real world, thought valued and slightly pathological.
ARTINFO: It is interesting that, especially in recent days, Western scholars trace back to the Enlightment and the Modernity on and on. Various exhibitions and activities also discuss similar crisises.
SHI Qing: Artists' work,to a large extent, is to bring the past questions into nowaday situation and relax the general relations.Alain Badiou has also mentioned the amazing effects of such pursuits, which just make the spectacles in capitalism society better.Of course, the premise of building new general relations is to enter into the context in the past. So artists would have a historically dialectical vision at least.
I bring my half-finished expeimental works or even raw materials into the exhibition hall, a definitive context.Aren’t they art works?Normally, anything exhibited in exhibition halls are looked as art works.Ready-made objects mingling with contexts and concepts can be regarded as art works as well,even though they are a pile of waste in artists' studios.Some people think works incomprehensible. I think the way of your watching matters.Counterparts in art world observe art works from intensive perspectives, in other words, watching the stage in the background. If the exhibition halls are compared to stages,what artists care in exhibitions is the way of your organization in art.They seldom mention the meanings of their art works.While general audiences are used to observing art works directly. I call this way of watching "systematic watching". From the surface of stage,people expect to find out the meanings in deep and it will be better authoritative artists or organizations make speeches for them. I think this happens because we all live in a system, including artists themselves.Only two solutions for this problem: cultivating audiences' habits of observing art works in the background; Making the stage as the backgound stage directly.
ARTINFO: In your talking,monuments and unfinished words, we feel the existence of ruins, but we also see many living plants in your works. How do you handle these two things?
SHI Qing: I often use plant garden to conmpare with today's contemporary system, an over-projected eco-environment or a purged system. On one hand,this system may derive from western genealogy and on the other hand, maybe it is a result of the classification of commodities in the capitalist society, which applies to the media operation.I made a work "Plant Republic" before.While these is no plant in it. What i wanted to talk about the purely the concept of "plant garden". You can project the plants but you can not control plants' growth.Then another concept "wild living" was put forward.These green plants were set as a backgound in this exhibition hall but they filled the whole space almost. So we may put it like that there is no work here but the backgound.
ARTINFO: As far as i know,you think installations can make an aura. How would you define this "aura"?
SHI Qing: I put "aura" in the context of the viewer’s perspectives. Traditional sculptures are the visual centre of the space,which replace the religious artifacts in old days.The concept of "aura" is more on entring something.Viewes are the centre in a physical space.In the aspect of creating methods, "aura" is thought to be put into a bigger context,a context for practicing.Boris Groys had raised the concepts of "working body" and "labouring body”I think "art working" is a working method for promoting practices. The concepts and ideas are not the ultimate goals. Just send the painted paper to workers.A start point, materials, spaces, artcrafts and various details constitute the whole creating work, which are usually revised and even overturned. So "art woking" is not just the physical working but like the writing work of theorists.
SHI Qing Brief introduction：
Shi Qing, born in 1969 in Baotou, Inner Mongolia, lived and worked in Beijing for almost two decades before moving to Shanghai. His works are involved in installations,videos and performances.Most of the time,SHI uses these art forms together in art projects or events.SHi’s works usually provide us unconventional thinkings in a complex system.No matter the media language,art system or our cognitive methods,from the earliest psychological behaviors to geopolitical conflicts in a globalized world and the cultural inheitance in a socialist society,nomadic working ways for some time can penetrate into real geographic space.Recent goals focus on the daily productive relations in politics and art.While SHI Qing is doing his own practices, he also joins in other art projects launched by different artists,such as Post-Sensibility,Compelet Art Experience Project and Top Building.SHI Qing and other artists make their contributions in promoting the autonomy of artists.
SHI Qing: "All That Is Solid Melts Into Air", ShanghART H-Space
Duration: 26th May,2012 - 30th Jun,2012