Provocations: Avant-Garde Art in China in the 1980s

Cover image: Plate 18: Zhang Peili X? Series: No. 4 1987 Oil on Canvas; 31 1/2 x 39 3/8 in. (80 x 100 cm); private collection

An exhibition curated by Bingqing Wei and Minerva Inwald

Plate 18: Zhang Peili X? Series, 1986. Oil on Canvas; 31 1/2 x 39 3/8 in. (80 x 100 cm); private collection From Inside/out : new Chinese art / edited by Gao Minglu ; with essays by Norman Bryson ... [et al.].

Where: Exhibition Space, Level 2, Fisher Library

When: 31 August 2017- 15 July 2018.

or check out the Virtual Exhibition:

https://library.sydney.edu.au/collections/east-asian/provocations/index.html

The 1980s was a period of dramatic political, cultural, and economic change in the People’s Republic of China. During the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), socialist ideology penetrated every facet of China’s social and cultural realms. After the Cultural Revolution concluded, the Chinese Communist Party shifted towards a policy of “opening and reform.” China’s cultural authorities loosened their control over the artistic sphere, ushering in a period of discussion, debate, and artistic experimentation. For thirty years, official cultural policy had demanded that artistic production “serve the masses” and “serve politics.” In the liberal atmosphere of the mid-1980s, a new generation of path-breaking artists emerged across China, forming “avant-garde” groups collectively known as the ’85 New Wave movement. Concerned with the future of China’s artistic culture, ’85 New Wave artists critically engaged with Western artistic and philosophical concepts and experimented with artistic form, expanding and diversifying the artistic field. Supported by a coterie of art critics, theorists, and curators, these avant-garde artists held provocative exhibitions and published iconoclastic manifestoes. In 1989, the government’s violent crackdown on student protestors brought a decisive end to this period of avant-garde exploration, extinguishing the optimistic spirit of avant-gardism that characterised the 1980s.

This exhibition introduces materials relating to China’s avant-garde held in University of Sydney library collections, including the East Asian Collection and the Schaeffer Fine Arts Library. Focusing on important Chinese fine art periodicals donated to the University of Sydney by Professor John Clark, this exhibition explores the artworks, exhibitions, and ideas that animated the Chinese art world of the 1980s. Supplementing these primary sources with important art historical texts, this exhibition seeks to demonstrate how materials in University of Sydney library collections can be used to explore this dynamic period of art history.

 

Exhibition: ‘Objects in the Mirror’

Come and check out the final 2016 installment of our Ex Libris Fisherarium Series featuring students from the Sydney College of the Arts curated by Associate Professor Michael Goldberg.

When: 20 June – 31 December 2016

Where: Fisher Library F03; Levels 2,3, and 4

This exhibition features Alex GAWRONSKI and Jelena TELECKI. ExLibris Fisherarium June 2016: Alex Gawronski setting up the exhibitionIt consists of a series of 10 book titles removed from their original contexts. Each title was chosen for its uncanny or humorous connotations once removed from its wider context. Considered collectively, these titles suggest a type of quasi-Dadaist poetry whose combined effect hints at alternative critical, playful and/or possibly even pataphysical, readings.

Graphically the original layout of each book title has been retained although now each has been rendered in watercolour as a ‘painting’. These works further reference the importance of text in contemporary art and artists as diverse as Ed Ruscha and Marcel Broodthaers. Accompanying these text works are figurative paintings by Jelena Telecki. These all respond to the book titles. Together the appropriated titles and their figurative interpretations, establish an open dialogue of fairly infinite suggestability.

‘Objects in the Mirror…’ (may be closer than they appear – as the warning goes) speaks of how texts and images continually interpolate one another while remaining fundamentally differentiated. The juxtaposition of text and image in this instance may be considered a type of improvisation that draws out the latent possibilities concealed behind the most ordinary words and the words that underlie the most stubbornly elusive representations.

New exhibition: ZEEN by Leigh Rigozzi

This exhibition in Fisher Library is the next in the ongoing series of art projects Ex Libris Fisherarium curated by Associate Professor Michael Goldberg. The projects comprising work by staff, alumni and associates of Sydney College of the Arts are themed around the idea of ‘the book’ in all its historical and contemporary manifestations. Read more >

 

 

Exhibition: Ex Libris Fisherarium art series

Data RetentionEx Libris Fisherarium is an ongoing series of art projects curated by Associate Professor Michael Goldberg. The projects comprising work by staff, alumni and associates of Sydney College of the Arts are themed around the idea of ‘the book’ in all its historical and contemporary manifestations.

Project: Data Retention by Gianni Wise

Artist’s Statement
With the proliferation of data networks, the human mind always find ways to ‘wire-up’ new connections between itself, objects, ideas, events and the world. I use wires and books as a form of ready-made art that work as props for memory. Objects external to the mind can trigger memory and make connections. I am interested in this interplay between mind and external world. When Umberto Ecco claimed in the Name of The Rose (1988): “Wanting connections, we found connections always, everywhere, and between everything” he refers to a world ‘exploding’ in a whirling network of interrelationships where everything (appears to) point to everything else, everything explains everything else.

Curator’s Statement
Gianni Wise’s installation has its menacing aspects. The title, ‘Data Retention’, might well refer to current government policies regarding the retention of metadata – the harvesting from telecommunications networks of personal information by law enforcement agencies – ostensibly to protect the public from acts of terrorism. Indeed, the installation itself displays a number of sinister ‘packages’. Perhaps they hold data. But they also disturbingly resemble IEDs (or ‘improvised explosive devices’). The ‘connections’ Wise refers to carry the potential to penetrate deep into our personal lives, challenging privacy and potentially violating fundamental rights. In this sense, the installation reflects on the threat of data retention exposing our personal lives ‘like an open book’. Wise’s use of ambiguously wired devices may equally suggest the mind’s desire to invent ‘paranoid’ connections where there are none.

Dates: 23 February to 26 March 2015
Where:
Levels 2, 3 and 4 exhibition cabinets, Fisher Library North
Cost: FREE and open daily to the public
Times: Opening times vary, please check the website

For details of past and current projects, connect with Ex Libris Fisherarium on Facebook.