e-flux reading room
Anri Sala & Hu Fang in conversation
e-flux reading room is pleased to announce two book presentations:
On December 9th, Hu Fang will discuss his recent novel, Garden of Mirrored Flowers and on December 15th, Anri Sala will present a book of drawings by Edi Rama, the Mayor of Tirana.
41 Essex Street
New York, NY 10002
T: 212 619 3356
Wednesday, December 9th, 8 pm
Hu Fang: From Liu Wenzheng to the Garden of Mirrored Flowers
It was at a dessert stall that he last met her. Now, neither of them can remember what was said too well. The one thing which stands out in his memory now is this: her lips pulling back sharply upon contact with that pink-coloured ice-cream, and then very rapidly, they swelled with an incredibly vivid hue, as if they were particularly made for melting, for separation….
Both of them kept silent, fully aware that a mere sentence could alter the future. However, the easiest thing to do was to act as if nothing had happened, and for each to return to the orbit of his or her life.
That’s the beginning of “Garden of Mirrored Flowers,” a story that creates a protagonist who is involved in designing a theme park named “Jin Hua Yuan” (镜花园, “Garden of Mirrored Flowers”), after the Chinese classical novel Jin Hua Yuan (镜花缘, “The Predestination of Mirrored Flowers”) from the Qing Dynasty. There are parallel lines between how reality and the imagination construct the evolution of a garden within a historic process. The story concludes in a giant opening ceremony of the theme park, in which history seems to have been completely consumed and absorbed by contemporary social movement.
For Hu Fang, circumstances in China are often so dramatic that it can seem as if reality itself is writing its own novel. When reality has already become a commodity, the Garden of Mirrored Flowers is a labyrinth in which one can be lost, or a pavilion made of semi-reflective glass reflecting self-images, precisely because we are situated within a reality replete with multiple routes.
Hu Fang is the artistic director and co-founder of Vitamin Creative Space, a project and gallery space dedicated to contemporary art exchange and to analyzing and combining different forms of contemporary cultures. In 2008, he also co-founded the shop in Beijing which is non-exhibition public space presented as a situation for understanding the relationship between art practice and daily practice. As a novelist and writer, Hu has published a series of novels including Shopping Utopia, Sense Training: Theory and Practise and A Spectator as well as a recent collection of fictional essays called New Arcades (Survival Club, Sensation Fair, and Shansui.) Hu graduated from the Chinese Literature Department of Wuhan University in 1992. He lives and works in Beijing and Guangzhou. For more information on Hu’s publications please visit www.hufangwrites.com and to see his recent contribution to e-flux journal see e-flux.com/journal/view/101.
Tuesday, December 15th, 8 pm Anri Sala: Edi Rama
e-flux is pleased to present a new book of drawings by Edi Rama, conceived and developed by Anri Sala. The book presentation will be accompanied by a conversation with Anri Sala and a screening of Sala’s video Dammi i Colori, 2003.
One day in 1937, Daffy Duck, the legendary animated cartoon character, accidentally steps off a cliff. He hangs in midair, soliloquizing, until he happens to look down. Daffy is able to evade the void so long as he is lost in an abstracted reality. His daydreaming subjugates gravity. As long as he remains occupied, the void does not call for his body.
Thirty-seven years later, shortly after 7:15 a.m. on August 7, 1974, Philippe Petit, the now-famous “man on wire” steps off the South Tower of the World Trade Center onto a steel cable connecting the long gap between the Twin Towers at a height of 417 meters. After walking back and forth, he lies down on the wire and begins a dialogue with a gull circling above his head. Perhaps they talk of cartoon physics and Daffy Duck.
Daffy’s reverie and Philippe’s focus are diametric ways of defeating the void. While Daffy must simply avoid straying from the realm of his ebullient imagination in order to escape gravity, Petit must insist on his trajectory in order to redefine physics. Both succeed in connecting two disparate points in the present.
It is uncertain whether Edi Rama’s doodling is the fruit of close attention or dreaminess. Undoubtedly, the magic laws of animated cartoons do not apply to the politics and daily problems of the city, the void and vertigo that they represent. In spite of their differences, Edi, Philippe, and Daffy share one tendency: to defy gravity and overcome the abyss through abstraction.
Edi’s absent-minded doodles sit like Disneyland castles on the dire reality of their pages. The drawings flow like colorful saliva, loosely binding the day-to-day, which must often taste like a mouthful of sand. They follow him like a constant companion on his quest. His lines curve and curl, never remaining straight for too great a distance. They connect the present to the otherwise unintelligible future, the separation of which is even greater than that between the former Twin Towers. Neither simple resolution nor definite span exists, but their absence inspires beautiful drawings.
—Anri Sala, 2009
Edi Rama is chairman of the opposition Socialist Party of Albania, current Mayor of Tirana, president of the Albanian Association of Mayors, and has served as Minister of Culture of Albania. Edi Rama has been Mayor of Tirana since 2000.
Anri Sala was born in Tirana and is currently based in Berlin. He is known for his innovative, conceptually driven video works that often involve sensory translations.
e-flux reading room is a rapidly growing collection of several thousand books on contemporary art exhibitions open to the public on New York’s Lower East Side. The books have been donated by numerous art institutions and individuals from all parts of the world and reflect some of the more interesting developments in art of the past decade. e-flux reading room is open for research and study from Monday through Friday, 2-6 pm.
Should you wish to contribute to this collection, please send your publications to:
e-flux reading room
41 Essex Street
New York, NY 10002