Thursday, 6 December 2012

Art of Change - New Directions from China

Yesterday, I nipped out in my lunch hour to grab a viewing of the Art of Change exhibition at the Hayward Gallery.

And rather than start off by telling you why you should go, I'm going to start by saying: stop fucking reading this and get your arse off to the Hayward right away. DO NOT MISS THIS EXHIBITION which ends on Sunday the 9th December 2012.

Right, now that's out of the way, let me congratulate the Hayward for another outstanding, witty, amusing, intelligent, provocative, superlative exhibition. This show is everything that contemporary art should be.

First and foremost, don't be put off in any way because the works are Chinese - there are some cultural nuances that add flavour to the work if you consider them, but the exhibition works wonderfully well on all levels: just as some amazing things to look at or experience, as works that make you contemplate your own life and society in the light of others and then as works that make you reflect on a culture you might not know or understand.

Some of the works are a bit "right-on" (Revolution Castings), some are amusingly interactive (Xu Shen's Untitled featuring exercise machines), some are genuinely surreal (Actions of Consciousness made me piss myself laughing), some of them are clever (I didn't notice what I am doing), some of them are provocative (Sleeping, In Between and Patience) and I couldn't possibly do any of them justice by trying to describe them.

However, I would be remiss if I didn't highlight Yingmei Duan's haunting and beautiful Happy Yingmei, which required me to crawl through a little hole in the wall into a dark cavern with a nightmarish landscape and wonderful aethereal singing by the artist. I stood at the end of the room, delighting in her voice and she haltingly and eerily came over to me singing all the time, folding and unfolding and reading a piece of paper and handed me the piece of paper with a handwritten message on it:

It seems that everyone gets a different message, so you actually walk away with a memento artwork as part of seeing the work!

So, if you want to spend an hour or two being challenged, amused, entertained, baffled and enthralled: GO!


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