May 13, 2015 - Xi’an Art Museum - Yuan Gong
May 13, 2015

Yuan Gong

Yuan Gong
Rehearse and Archive—”The Europe of Woman” Director’s Notes
23 May–8 June 2015

Xi’an Art Museum
Da Tang Bu Ye Cheng,
Zhenguan Square, Area One
Qujiang New District, Xi’an, Shaanxi
China 710061

Opening his third solo show in as many months, Yuan Gong continues his self-proclaimed “retreat” to mainland China’s smaller cities in an effort to bring daring contemporary art to places less accustomed to the arts exposure enjoyed by Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.

Critically acclaimed in China, Yuan Gong (b. 1961) has gained international recognition with The Scented Air—More than 6000 m3, presented at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011. Using a large variety of media, his artworks subtly address many questions reflecting his concerns about Chinese society and the formation of identity.

Rehearse and Archive—”The Europe of Woman” Director’s Notes is launching through a “storage agreement” by the artist and the Xi’an Art Museum. According to the artist’s concept, the museum’s exhibition hall will be converted into Pit 18 of the Duke of Zhou Temple archaeological site at Shaanxi’s Mount Qi. This hall will be used to store the Duke of Zhou soil, while also creating a rehearsal space. The exhibition and events will serve as a part of Duke of Zhou Soil Collection Plan.

Rehearsals for “The Europe of Woman,” the second scene of famed German playwright Heiner Müller’s Hamletmachine, will take place in “Pit 18.” With the grave as a rehearsal stage, with the Duke of Zhou’s soil as a prop, and with the history of the “people” emerging from inside the coffins of Pit 18, as Müller said: “We have to accept the presence of the dead, take them as the object of dialogue or disturbing the object of dialogue—the future is produced in dialogue with the dead.”

Yuan Gong’s Duke of Zhou Soil Collection Plan series is completing its ever-changing social intervention system. Starting in 2009 with the excavation of 100 cubic meters of soil from the Duke of Zhou Temple to the 2011 auction of 1 gram of Duke of Soil soil, as well as Duke of Zhou Soil Collection Plan works being exhibited at Guangdong Museum of Art and as Butterflies fly once more at a solo show at the Bund18 Gallery in Shanghai, Yuan Gong’s collection, transport, storage, and exhibition of this soil as a material of traditional culture has surprised his peers.

In his opinion, this soil, progressively accumulated during three thousand years and treaded upon by thousands of individuals, is, more than any precious object, a living witness of history in-the-making and of time passing. The Duke of Zhou soil is no longer an artwork by itself: it is also a medium expressing the artist’s concerns and independence. Since its excavation, the Duke of Zhou soil has turned into a contemporary art material, connecting past memory and reflection on the current social reality.

Rehearse and Archive—”The Europe of Woman” Director’s Notes is the third of four Yuan Gong solo exhibitions that are taking place in Chinese museums this year, respectively in Wuhan, Tianjin, Xi’an, and Shijiazhuang. These four successive exhibitions will have the character of an introduction to the artist’s universe and practice, where the focus is not on an exhaustive thematic display but on the way the various works relate to the artist’s personal story.

Currently living and working in Shanghai, Yuan Gong has had solo exhibitions at the Guangdong Art Museum, Guangzhou; the Zendai Contemporary Art Space, Shanghai; Bund18 Gallery, Shanghai; among other venues. Major international exhibitions in which he has participated in recent years include Kunstmuseum Mülheim an der Ruhr as part of this year’s China8; Belle Haleine – The Scent of Art, Museum Tinguely, Basel; Secret Signs, Deichtorhallen Museum, Hamburg; Asia Triennial Manchester 2014; the 12th National Art Exhibition, Today Art Museum, Beijing; ChinaArteBrazil, Oca Pavilhão, São Paulo; the 54th and 55th Venice Biennale. His works have been acquired by the White Rabbit Collection and by the Sigg Collection of Chinese contemporary art. 

The exhibition is made possible by the support of the Xi’an Art Museum. Additional generous support has been provided by side effect, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of film and the performing arts in China.  

Art Advisors: Pi Daojian, Li Zhenhua
Organizer: side effect Arts Organization

About zag group
Constituted of young talents, zag group is a newly formed group of young performing arts professionals based in Shanghai, China. In addition to the current “Hamletmachine” series, they presented the Turmoil performance for the first time at the opening ceremony of Asia Triennial Manchester 2014 in Manchester Cathedral and at the opening ceremony of the Deichtorhallen Museum Secret Signs exhibition in November 2014.

Yuan Gong at Xi'an Art Museum
Xi’an Art Museum
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