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Indepth Arts News:

"China Welcomes You...Desires, Struggles, New Identities"
2007-06-07 until 2007-09-02
Kunsthaus Graz
Graz, , AT Austria

Everyone is talking about China. Reports on the development of the economy, the political situation, and also about the booming Chinese art market feature almost daily in the media and serve as a kind of attractant for curious Westerners. One major point of interest is the question of the Other, an emerging image of this unknown, massive, new player on the global field. Beyond this general question, the exhibition China Welcomes You ... at Kunsthaus Graz presents a selection of some fifteen artists, setting out to explore new identities that present China from very different perspectives, confirming some stereotypes and refuting others. At the same time, the exhibition sets out in search of the roots and precursors, bridges between here and there, between such a rich heritage of major historic upheavals in the twentieth century and the dynamic present situation.

The exhibition, that fills the whole Kunsthaus Graz up to the panorama terrace Needle, features a broad spectrum of very different genres from installation to projection, painting and ceramic art that display and challenge their origin, sometimes subtly, sometimes unexpectedly ostentatiously. They induce us to rethink our own image of a stable, global present and its rules of art by examining such polarities as singularity versus copy, mass versus individual, or ethics versus artistic freedom.

All of the exhibits are on show in Austria for the first time, indeed most of the projects were created specially for Kunsthaus Graz. Ai Weiwei, for example – who is even now causing quite a stir at this year’s Documenta with his project in which he invites 1001 Chinese people – presents a magnificently monumental piece in Space01 with his imposing porcelain installation created for Graz. Feng Mengbo brings his latest project about Chinese shadow theatre to Graz, building a bridge to the history of the Chinese world of gestic poetry with new media. Cao Fei, who will also be appearing at this year’s Venice biennial, focuses on the subject of economic boom and the question of individuality in her Whose Utopia installation (2006), thus addressing questions that have not only concerned China for decades but that are rather of world-wide relevance in the context of global economic systems. With these and other works, the exhibition China Welcomes You ... shows that China – both in the past, reaching back to Marco Polo, and in the present – is a mirror in the definitions of culture, a country that both disturbs and attracts us. Different and yet so similar.

Artists: Ai Wei Wei, Chen Zaiyan, Cao Fei, Duan Jianyu, Feng Mengbo, Guo Fengyi, Hu Xiao Yuan, Lu Hao, Sun Qinglin, Sun Yuan und Peng Yu, Yang Fudong, Wang Jianwei, Xie Nanxing, Xu Zhen, Zhang Peili, Zheng Guogu

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