“The Body and Beyond" Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition International Tour(Oslo, Norway)
Source:artintern Author:Yifei Gan Date: 2014-07-19 Size:
It would be very important and significant to this exhibition because it will be held in the City Hall of Oslo this time...

We might assert that the "Body" as well as the Spirit of humanity was awakened during the Renaissance and the long, dark medieval age came to a close. The Rationalism of "The Enlightenment” further liberated humanity from both supernatural and feudal power. Standing in the present moment, after Friedrich Nietzsche has declared "the death of God," people seem to understand that they have free will and can control their own fate. Human civilization, it seems, has stepped into a colorful contemporary era of possibilities.

In the unfolding of human civilization we observe a continuing struggle between chaos and order, bondage and liberty, divinity and humanity, spiritual soul and secular body. Originally natural beings aware of their own power to create, humans have over the centuries made "shackles" for themselves. They have installed "supernatural beings" in the heavens and formed dictatorial political systems on earth. Combined in their influence, these two varieties of "shackles" have gradually usurped the natural essence and dignity of human beings, turning them into potential slaves to divinity and puppets in dictatorial systems.

The human need for both a "God" to explain the world and provide its ruling norms and for a political system to protect the people from enemies and maintain the social order is understandable. However, once the rulers of the political system learned to invoke the name of “God" in order to suppress and oppress humanity, the people began to question, challenge and, ultimately, to break these divine and human "shackles." In this renewed assertion of the human spirit – from the Renaissance, through the Enlightenment, to the modern and contemporary eras – we see that both the “body” and its spirit have been awakened and have recommenced their journey toward freedom. Once again, humans aspire to recover and claim their status as independent, free and natural beings.

In China, we can trace this spirit of renewal from the 1919 “New Culture Movement” of "May 4th" when students at Beijing’s Universities rebelled against the Versailles Peace Conference, with its humiliating provision for the concession of Chinese territory to Japan., despite China’s having fought on the winning side in World War I. Coming in the wake of the 1912 overthrow of the Qing Dynasty, this protest spread widely and marked a turning point that initiated China’s embrace of science, democracy, and patriotism. From the May 4th Movement to the democratization protest movements of the 1980s, we find strong evidence that the Chinese people have continued to participate in the long drive toward the emancipation of human creativity. The artists of modern China are, therefore, poised to express the core values of our contemporary time.

Philosophically, Nietzsche's declaration of "the death of God" may guide us to shift our focus from macro-level concern for social reform to micro-level assertion of an individual humanistic liberty that declares: No "God" or "King" but ourselves can save us or save the human race. This realization of individual freedom and integrity must arise from one's own hard work and self-enlightenment; The old value system in which absolute temporal and spiritual power ruled should be challenged, questioned, or overthrown. Any ideological taboo that is anti-humanity should be revoked. The rigid thought of Absolutism should be replaced by a more open and pluralistic relativism.

Throughout human history, the increased freedom of the human spirit has brought about much positive advancement in human civilization. The Industrial Revolution and subsequent high tech advancements and explosions of knowledge are some of the fruits of this evolution. All of these achievements have not only provided us with better living conditions but also brought us expanded possibilities for further developing human civilization. A free human spirit has proved to be a major driving force for advancing humanity. Greater freedom for the individual and a more open and diversified society should be the shared goal for every nation in our time. However, the clash between rigid traditional patterns and emerging ideas and possibilities is far from being resolved; in fact, there may never be an end to this struggle. For this reason, commitment to the ongoing liberation of the human spirit is a profound obligation that remains more imperative than ever. The artist should play an important role in this transformation of civilization.

This exhibit is the continuation of "Percorso"(Across) - Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition” which was held in Italy in 2011 and “The Body and Beyond”- Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition International Tour in Maryland USA 2012. In order to offer the spectator a broad perspective to use in seeing how these artists respond to the current human condition (especially in representing how people deal with new dilemmas and challenges and express both interior and exterior feelings in this postmodern era), the title of this exhibit has been changed to "The Body and Beyond - Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition.”

The majority of the art works in this exhibit are newly created pieces, and they are focused on expressing the power and vitality of individual life which may further reveal complex social, political and philosophical issues humanity has to face every day. Based on the richness of this body of work, the new title “The Body and Beyond" is meant to further expand the space for the renewal of humanity by conditioning it on the liberation of the secular "body" -- the basic vehicle to host the spirit and to enjoy both physical and spiritual accomplishment. If we want to achieve a higher level of humanity or spiritual fulfillment, we must first free our bodies from both interior fear and exterior confinement.

The dynamic encounter between Human and "God", between "body" and soul, between individuality and autocracy may continue forever. In fact, these encounters will likely remain themes for politicians, philosophers, and artists of the future. However, these very interactions might also guide us in finding the balance point between the "humanization of nature" and the "naturalization of humanity." In order to achieve this balance, we seek a common ground where humanity may engage in natural self-cultivation. And, in the process of seeking this balance, we aspire to save humanity from new cages of brutal totalitarianism and greedy materialism by going back to the natural condition that humankind enjoyed at the beginning.

It seems obvious to us that a trend toward greater “naturalness” in humanity is the main stream of contemporary democratic society and culture, just as the seeking of individual freedom is the most salient characteristic of contemporary art. If we can say that the core of humanism is the integrity of each individual human being, then a free expression of that individual's happiness, sadness, spiritual and secular desires has its natural legitimacy and authority as well. The artist must absolutely work for and protect these rights. Therefore, "The Body and Beyond - Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibit” has been designed as a direct response to the challenges and opportunities discussed above.

Even if "God is dead", we are still alive. We are alive not only for "God" but for ourselves, whether we step into an unforeseeable chaotic future, or whether we face and embrace a joyful and prosperous life ahead of us.

It would be very important and significant to this exhibition because it will be held in the City Hall of Oslo this time. As we know, Oslo City Hall is the place where the Nobel Peace Prize has been presented. The Peace Prize has expanded from promoting world peace to human rights in recent decades. The “Body and Beyond” exhibition carries the same goal or value about development of humanity as Mr. Nobel did. Artists in this show are trying to promote human dignity through their art. I believe that this exhibition will provide a unique platform for Chinese contemporary artist to show what they are thinking and how they engage the complex social and political situation in China. It is a great opportunity for the people of Norway and other countries to access the information about China and her people through this contemporary Chines art in this historical significant city in the world.

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[Editor] 刘建兰

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