COSMIC WONDER

Zhao Yao, The Power of Nature, 2016–18. The Workers’ Stadium, Beijing. Photo: UCCA.

EARLIER THIS MONTH, the artist Zhao Yao experienced what it’s like to be a pop star, preparing for a one-show-only event at the Workers’ Stadium in Beijing. Built on the tenth anniversary of the new China in 1959, the stadium has been a cultural and sports center for the past six decades, accommodating various activities, but mostly football games and pop music concerts in recent years. It’s also surrounded by the most popular nightclubs in Beijing.

To the stadium, Zhao brought his 108,000-square-foot painting, The Power of Nature. Think of it as a massive rug made of cloth and fabric, on which are abstract patterns that are typical to Zhao’s long-term painting practice. (He’s known for appropriating colorful but intricate pictures from brain-teaser books in his paintings.) At 6 AM on May 18th, Zhao and some fifty people from his team loaded the rolled work in and unraveled it in the football field.

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Three leading artists explore the complex notion of a multi-ethnic national identity in post-globalization China
BY COLIN CHINNERY

While I was writing this article, in February 2018, the artist Zhao Yao received permission to rent the iconic Workers’ Stadium in north-eastern Beijing for one day in May. His intention was to show an abstract composition on fabric, measuring 116 × 86 m, which was produced in 2016 and initially displayed 5,000 m above sea level on a mountainside in Qinghai province on the Tibetan Plateau. Independently, last October, Zhao Zhao brought a camel and its keeper from the far western region of Xinjiang to Tang Contemporary Art in Beijing. His exhibition, ‘Desert Camel’, was a coda to the major work Project Taklamakan (2015–16), for which the artist transported a functioning refrigerator to the middle of the Taklamakan Desert. Zhuang Hui, meanwhile, has been visiting the Qilian Mountains in Gansu province for the past seven years,  exploring the geography and culture of the region through photography, video and installation. All three artists live and work in Beijing, yet have spent years working on  projects relating to the far west of China, a region loaded with historical and political contention.Gansu, Qinghai, Tibet and Xinjiang collectively form the great western flank of modern China. Consisting largely of impassable mountains and inhospitable deserts, these vast regions represent about 40 percent of the country’s landmass but house only four percent of its population. Areas of vital strategic importance to modern China, they are also home to peoples with their own ethnic and cultural identities, which frequently clash with Beijing’s objectives. Consequently, it has been an important part of modern Chinese politics to develop the notion of a multi-ethnic national consciousness.

Zhao Yao, Spirit Above All, 2016–17, project documentation, Nangqian County. Courtesy: the artist

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The Power of Nature:

A Ten Thousand Square Meter Painting in Beijing

自然的力量:一万平米作品在北京

2018.5.18

工人体育场

Workers’ Stadium

 

尤伦斯当代艺术中心(UCCA)携手艺术家赵要,于2018年5月18日在北京工人体育场呈现艺术项目“自然的力量:一万平米作品在北京”。此次项目将呈现艺术家历时三年完成的10, 000平米大型装置作品:艺术家将这件长116米、宽 86米的大型装置作品置于人迹罕至的自然环境中,经历半年的风吹日晒后撤下并回收展示。这是作品撤回至城市后的首次展示,是作品最重要的发展和全新的延续。

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赵要:它就是对“崇高”进行解压缩的一次过程

2016年11月23日,一幅长116米宽86米大型画布从青海省玉树藏族自治区州囊谦县白扎乡的摩耶寺山脚下开始了一段“爬坡”的征程。作为赵要2012-2013年曾在佩斯伦敦展出的同名项目“精神高于一切”的延展,这次的“晒布仪式”是艺术家从城市经验出发,对“精神性”和“崇高性”的一次再探索。而把地点放在了海拔近5000米高的山顶无人区,通过仁波切和当地200多人的共同协作将这一尺寸接近于巨型唐卡的“画”在荒芜的山坡表面缓慢铺开,赵要认为这是一种做作品的反向过程,不再是将所有的探索浓缩在一个作品里,而是像把压缩包一个个打开,把里面的各种意义、想法在过程中呈现在眼前。

2017年1月4日,曾尔尕山,多尕喇嘛在察看作品

ArtWorld: 能否先从这次的项目出发,谈谈“精神高于一切”这个名字与之前项目的关系?

赵要:2016年开始的《精神高于一切》项目本是那场2012-2013年在伦敦“精神高于一切”展览的延伸和发展。当时展出的作品主要也是《很有想法的绘画》,但之后我想改变一下这些绘画的体验感,所以就想到了跟宗教进行结合。宗教这个东西就是你可以怀疑它,但不能完全否定它。所以,我就把那批同样现成游戏的图案,用黑白丙烯画在了牛仔布上,大概有6、7件的样子,然后运到了青海玉树囊谦的寺庙那里。那是在2012年的冬天,当时玉树也地震完,用卡车运过去的过程比较艰苦。当时一套完整的作品其实包括有墙上的黑白寺庙照片,它们很能符合我们对于精神性的想象,而画就挂在了照片上。这是一个影集,是按时间排序展示慢慢一路过去的场景。这三样东西东西合成了一件完整的作品。

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