Bâton-Serpent (II)— Huang Yongping International Touring Exhibition
2015.09.26 - 2016.02.16
Huang Yong Ping has been one of the most important and influential figures in both the Chinese and global contemporary art worlds since the mid-1980s. Empowered with unique philosophical thoughts and astute artistic language, he has created a complex, dynamic, ever-evolving and monumental body of works that question and criticize all conventional perception and knowledge of the world. Inspired by different cultural references beyond the dominant narrative of modernity, his work releases the power of skepticism from mobile positions and defies all established value systems and identification, providing alternative proposals for us to deal with problems of our time and the future.
A Chinese native, Huang Yong Ping started his artistic career as a leader of the ‘85 New Wave Movement in 1985-1986. He left China to settle in Paris at the end of the1980s and has since been active around the world. This experience of living in constant displacement makes him even more convinced that change is the truth of life and skepticism, the ethical position to adopt. He has developed profound and dynamic reflections on the questions of encounter, confrontation, conflict and negotiation between cultures, traditions, ideologies and political systems. Such questions are becoming increasingly overwhelming in our everyday life, which is driven by the acceleration of globalization, migration, communication, economic expansion and geopolitical competition. As he explains in his notes on the exhibition, the practice of art and the exhibition of works of art are for him to “dispute” – disputing with himself, with others, with architectural spaces, with institutions, in order to “fulfill a matter”, to realize a new reality that will further be polemicized and disputed by the public. In other words, to make and exhibit art is to evoke new forms of public life open to questions and critiques.
Animals as humanized representations of social, cultural, religious and political confrontations and negotiations have been the predominant images in Huang Yong Ping’s works over the last two decades. They have been investigated and reinvented from the perspective of the “archaeology of knowledge”, as put forward by Foucault. Through examining diverse references, be they ancient or modern, Western or Non-Western, cultural or historical, with his sources ranging from mythologies, religious texts, historic narratives, as well as current international affairs, he provides us with a new, provocative and even subversive vision of the world from its past to the present and beyond to the future.
The project Bâton-Serpent was initially conceived for the MAXXI, National Museum of 21st Century Arts, in Rome, capital of Western religions. By introducing a transformative reading and incarnation of a biblical tale shared by both Judaic and Christian traditions, a story recorded in Exodus where God demonstrates His power to the desperate Moses as he was leading his people out of Egypt…along with a deployment of different religious representations in coexistence and interaction, Huang Yong Ping proposed a spectacular picture of the world driven by religious conflicts.
Arriving in Beijing’s Red Brick Museum, Batôn-Serpent (II) is transformed and reincarnated. It is also diverted from the question of religious confrontations. In this new project, which combines some major works from the MAXXI exhibition and newly introduced works, Huang Yong Ping addresses the question of territorial disputes as the main cause of the restructuring of the power relationship in both domestic and global societies today. Zoning becomes the new strategy to occupy and transform the museum’s spatial structure, hence, its cultural and political meanings. Inspired by the recent international negotiations on the “Air Defense Identification Zone” that has intensified the process of reorganization of the global order, Huang Yong Ping turns the museum into a new “theatre of the world”, in which humanized animals in various embodiments – un-skinned snakes, a mad cow and sheep, horses, birds, deer, boars, oxen and lions with heads and bodies separated – are playing out scenes of circus, battle, destruction, apocalypse and exile.
Five zones are created. They continue to expand, transgressing borders and invading the territory of the others. Borders are constantly moving. The world is always being remapped. Negotiation and strife are inevitable. And, we are all expected to provide our answers: Who are we? Where are we? How can we live with others?Read all
Huang Yong Ping
Red Brick Art Museum