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The Attitude of Per Square Meter

An interview about Wang Youshen's solo exhibition “Per Square Meter” Interviewer: ZHANG Zili (Senior filmmaker, director) | HUANG Zhuan (Famous curator, art critic) Translator: Lydia | Zhang Jinglu 2014

Time: at night, 14th August, 2014
Place: Lido Square, Holiday Inn Lido Hotel, Beijing


ZHANG Zili: I knew that he (WANGYoushen) made this “Per Square Meter” exhibition, but I was really shocked by it. I can’t envision him doing it in such a square meter, the deconstruction is abundant. And it seems such a simply square meter, but in fact, it relates to our social situation. From your point of view, a critic’s perspective, please do an introduction of this work to the viewers.  

HUANG Zhuan: I knew he (WANG Youshen) has making this artwork, but I was astounded by this effect he made. For his work, I think it’s from a small aspect to extend a big issue.

I think Youshen has some characters in his art style. Firstly, he pays much attention on image materials. For us (generals), images are images, for example, the content of the image. Since 1980s, he has made images as physical objects, including the relationship between image cleaning, images and other material, this is a vital feature in his art.

For example, early he made “Nutritious Soil” and the image of “Washing” were huge different from others who also work on images in China. He always handles images from physical attitude, not simply treat the image data as an isolated issue, but he makes relation between images and objects, as “Per Square Meter” represent.

When it comes to “Per Square Meter”, it is a very common event; a matter that every artist experienced,but he has infused his own language, that’s the most impressive. Further, the logical relationship between every unit is extremely clear.

From the very beginning’s two bodies to invitation of everything about the event to a scene, he extracted a square meter into a pure art object, finally put them into the event, restored a scene. I think he has clarified the whole problematique and the original way of treating images.

This work is the most complicated among his works, including video, images, material and sound, which aren’t planned at first, I’m sure this work will be the milestone in his career, because its richness and logicality.

ZHANG Zili: I’m very touched by his own (active and work), In our laymen’s eye, it seems a bit like a religion, doing his work day by day, my idea is “one day”, recording one of his working day in 4 years, which is an amplified day related to a square meter, why he did it himself?

HUANG Zhuan: I always regard him as “essenes”, he gets used to study a long period before starting out, puts focus on every single step and never get slack, he turns materials and images over in his mind as well as the relationship between his work and the space, this is different from the pursuing of “great effect” and “Space occupied” by certain artists. Although it hasn’t been showed, I believe the final effect is definitely better than the plan.

ZHANG Zili: A while back, I’ve seen his marmoreal plasterboard fragments, I felt very interesting, he told me some of his plan, not as abundant as what we’ve seen now, unfolding layers of images and the memory of the demolished studio, he refined a minimal social unit. As my opinion, his work is not limited to the art aspect, how do you think?

HUANG Zhuan: To express social issues, political issues, ideological issues which are very natural, and many artists have done this. he theme he(WANG Youshen) chose also has been done by others before, but he represented a indirect and indistinct standpoint, he against the government and irrational system. He just merged them into his logical work and that’s the portion I appreciate the most.

It’s not difficult to express an attitude or stand to an exact system or authority, but why I titled my article about this work as “one square meter has nothing to do with space”, that’s because he hid his attitude in the event happened in a space, he’s like an bystander, he got involved the contract files and just left the power of judgment to the audience, that’s his manner.

He minimized the ethical relationship to let the audience decide, which made greater power. I really think the artistic features are stronger than the social features in this work.

ZHANG Zili: He’s just a bystander, let the audience think themselves, let the artwork tell the story, that’s a higher level.

HUANG Zhuan: If his work is only about the attitude of resist, that would be less powerful. For example, he spread the flower seeds on the surface of the printed photos, that’s a typical one, he embodied a violent behavior in a gentle way, touched everyone, especially the female audience.

ZHANG Zili: I’ve been to his old studio, when I met him later, I asked him about the studio, he told me it has been dismantled, actually he’s greatly influenced, that’s the catalyst of the work.

HUANG Zhuan: It’s worthy enough of getting an artwork instead of being pissed off, he shows his power by artistic influence.

ZHANG Zili: His artistic choice and the formal treat gave energy to the artwork.

HUANG Zhuan: This is a very important work of his career, from my personal view, he must be in a new stage.

ZHANG Zili:You’re always an expert on this.

HUANG Zhuan: I stay focus on him from his first work in Wangfujin(“√”1989), we’re not only friends. I think he’s a special artist among those who make images. I think his value has not been fully recognized and estimated, but people could notice his importance slowly by these works.


Text and photography: LIU Yinan
(Finish according to WANG Youshen solo documentary film"everyday" live interview)

Related Artists:
WANG YOUSHEN 王友身
Related Exhibitions:
WANG Youshen: Per Square Meter

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