chinese pavilion at venice art biennale 2011
chinese pavilion at venice art biennale 2011 chinese pavilion at venice art biennale 2011
jun 07, 2011

chinese pavilion at venice art biennale 2011

‘cloud-tea’ by artist cai zhisong image © designboom

venice is pervaded by ‘chinese flavors’ the national chinese pavilion, located within the arsenale area at the venice art biennale 2011, shows ‘pervasion’ – artworks created by cai zhisong, liang yuanwei, pan gongkai, yang maoyuan, and yuan gong.

peng feng, vice dean of the aesthetics and educational research center at peking university and curator of the chinese pavilion, presents five single-artist installations redolent of scents associated with the country’s cultural tradition (as opposed to the west’s traditional focus on aesthetics): tea, lotus, liquor, incense and herbal medicine. here are some pictures from the scene:

the huge artificial clouds created by young artist cai zhisong image © designboom

flavor and fragrance are designated by the same chinese character… cai’s work evokes tea; yuan’s, the smell of incense; yang’s, medicinal herbs; pan’s, the smell of lotus; and liang’s the pungent scent of china’s traditional white spirit — ‘baijiu’.

each cloud of ‘cloud-tea’ was lightly coated in white paint to add depth and layering image © designboom

‘cloud-tea’ by cai zhisong the white-painted ‘devices’ are made of steel and house wind chimes and tea. when moved by the wind, the clouds emit the scent of tea and the sound of the wind itself. the fragrance comes from longjing tea, which the buddhist monks drink tea to keep a pure and refreshed mood. the installation is designed to induce feelings of being wakefulness and enlightenment.

clouds by cai zhisong image © designboom

though appropriately related, the surrounding fog are incidentally part of another work, ’empty incense’ by yuan gong. using twenty sets of ultrasonic atomizers, the installation’s high-pressure water mist system fills the pavilion with atomized incense fog every two hours, from a square of white pebbles laid on the grass.

’empty incense’ by yuan gong image © designboom

two clouds flanking yuan gong’s ’empty incense’ image © designboom

image © designboom

the opaqueness of the smoke image © designboom

artist yuan gong portrait © designboom

yang maoyuan’s ‘all things are visible’ on the ground of the arsenale cistern, visitors find thousands of medicine pots. traditional chinese medical prescriptions are carved on the interior of these pots but on their outside there are no signs. ‘according to the theory of traditional chinese medicine, all things are visible, be it the acupuncture points, meridians or collaterals,’ yang illustrated, ‘however, they do not exist at all to modern science.’

yang maoyuan’s ‘all things are visible’ image © designboom

yang maoyuan’s ‘all things are visible’ image © designboom

yang maoyuan’s ‘all things are visible’ image © designboom

pan gongkai’s ‘snow melting in lotus’ image © designboomfor ‘snow melting in lotus,’ pan gongkai juxtaposes the traditional technique of ink painting with cut-out western characters that cascade along the ground.

detail of pan gongkai’s ‘snow melting in lotus’ image © designboomBTW apparently unaware of the human rights abuses occurring in many other nations present here, you could question whether chinese artists should have exhibited at all.

financial times reports that ‘until
we have all the information, it is difficult to make a comment,’ said
curator peng feng when pressed for a
response to the situation
regarding the arrest of ai weiwei, the artist and activist who now looks set to be imprisoned for a long time.
the chinese government allegestax evasion but his supporters say this is an excuse for taking one of the state’s most vocal critics out of circulation.

the 54th international art exhibition in venice, italy, runs until nov. 27, 2011.

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