Thursday, June 05, 2008

Eastern Standard: Western Artists in China

Eastern Standard: Western Artists in China, at Mass Moca.... I was excited to see this show, as a former Western Artist in Japan (8+ yrs), but it was disappointing. I think there were only one or two artists who actually live and work in China, so the show is more like Western Artists Make Brief Visits to China and Share Many of the Same Simplistic Responses... lots and lots of repetitive photos and video (the medium of the tourist) of shipping containers and apartment blocks.

Wall texts inform that the work "references China's economic and commercial development as well as the loss of cultural and social traditions in the wake of such progress", or "this poetic work subtly reminds viewers of the environmental impact of China's new development". Those are from two different pieces, but you could almost walk around with a blindfold on and attach wall texts, it wouldn't really make much of a difference. They should maybe just all read "tsk-tsk", or "KEYWORD: Three Gorges Dam"... it would have saved some time. I can imagine the roar of the collective Chinese groan. What would happen if every person in China rolled his eyes at the same time? Would the Earth spin off it's axis???

The most off-putting inclusion is Jules de Balincourt's snooze of a painting, previously seen in his most recent Zach Feuer show (scroll down). Why is this here? Thanks for your insight. Please.

It's interesting to see what artists/gallerists (Feuer, Koenig) are evidently still interested in working with Mass Moca, despite Michelle Maccarone's lobbying against it. I suspect that all of the shows currently at Mass Moca are the most cost-effective shows possible, after all of the money spent and wasted struggling through last year's Buchel/MassMoca mess. Lots and lots of easily shipped and insured video and photography, a collector's vanity show (of work by Anselm Kiefer), Jenny Holzer's projected piece (I think Jenny has covered a lot of the costs of her show, she is awesome).

GREAT NEWS is that Mass Moca no longer prohibits photography! They've even started a flickr pool.

NEXT: i liked some of the individual work in Eastern Standard, if not the show. next i'll feature some of the artists i liked... Tobias Bernstrup, Patty Chang, Walter McConnel, Catherine Yass.


Anonymous said...

Could you please blow the lid off Saltz's new trend of writing full length reviews of male artists and those little Critic's Picks of female artists.

onomato said...

Whenever I see a show I wonder if its some form of satire (ironic) or not (doesn't everyone?)

I think that kind of implict threat - the sincerity gap - ultimately the ambiguity - is what attracts many sophisticates to shows like the one you describe at Mass MOCA or in the big leagues.

Offerings of strangers, essentially - and are we not all strange? Is life not one inside jokes to be penetrated? Otherwise, where is the joy?

But if not joy, where is the the?

But if not the the, then what?

No, Chinese people seem to be an open book when it comes to their kow-towing Westernized academicated art, I agree.

And I heap scorn on them, just as I heap scorn on all players at the game, north south eat and west. even though they may play liars poker, texas hold em, or even solitaire.

I shall not be venturing to Mass Moca this summer, but I will be going to Philly, where I'm sure to be impressed anew by the balls of Duchamp, who made his penchant for cross dressing into art. Or was that just a gag?

Martin said...

hi onomato - just to be clear... this is not a show of chinese artists, it's a show of western artists responding to china.

and i love mass moca... it's one of my favorite places, with some shows better than others (like everywhere).

the tired chinese artistic tropes are smiling faces and stuffed tigers. trying to think who my favorite chinese arists are... cao fei, zhang huan. who else?