rent collection courtyard at gwangju art biennale 2010
 
rent collection courtyard at gwangju art biennale 2010 rent collection courtyard at gwangju art biennale 2010
sep 06, 2010

rent collection courtyard at gwangju art biennale 2010

zhao shutong, wang guanyi and the rent collection courtyard collective, exhibition view, the103 copper-plated fiberglass sculptures are arranged in a series of narrative tableaux in which the exploitation and suffering of the rural population culminate in a scene of uprising and revolt. image © designboom

in 1965, a group of students and teachers at the sichuan fine arts institute in chongqing were commissioned by the provincial government of sichuan, china, to create a series of 103 life-sized social realist sculptures depicting the exploitation of the peasant farmers at the hands of a wealthy landowner, liu wen-tsai. the sculptures were to be installed in the courtyard of liu’s former manor house, which was converted into a museum of class struggle following the creation of the people’s republic of china.

the ‘rent collection courtyard’ was born from the socialist movement of making realistic sculptures to educate the illiterate and is a series of emotive statues that fight, beg and plead as collectors come for the rent they cannot pay. originally rendered in humble materials such as wood, clay, and straw, the sculptures are re-made in fiberglass by zhao shutong, wang guanyi and the rent collection courtyard collective, produced from 1974 to 1978, so that it could be toured all over china.

the installation is currently on show in its entirety at gwangju biennale ‘10,000 lives’ september 3, 2010 – november 7, 2010 (66 days) designboom went to the press preview and in the following days will feature the most exciting works.

103 copper-plated fiberglass sculptures, life size scale image © designboom

the 8th installment of the gwangju biennale marks the 30th anniversary of the movement that brought democracy to korea. the life-size sculptures of the ‘rent collection courtyard’ that relate the suffering of the chinese peasants at the hands of a tyrannical landlord, have become one of the foundational images of the chinese cultural revolution.

this work’s inclusion in the biennale is particularly interesting because it was meant to be displayed at documenta 5 in 1972 but wasn’t, due to political and financial reasons. organizers also attempted to bring it to the venice art biennale in 1999 but failed, which inspired chinese participating artist cai guo-qiang to create replicas as part of a performance installation. last year, the ‘rent collection courtyard’ made its western debut at schirn kunsthalle in frankfurt, germany and the gwangju biennale is the first showing of these sculptures in asia outside of china.

exhibition view image © designboom

copper-plated fiberglass sculpture image © designboom

exhibition view image © designboom

detail image © designboom

close-up image © designboom

close-up image © designboom

exhibition view image © designboom

exhibition view image © designboom

copper-plated fiberglass sculpture image © designboom

image © designboom

exhibition view image © designboom

copper-plated fiberglass sculptures, life size image © designboom

copper-plated fiberglass sculptures, life size image © designboom

 copper-plated fiberglass sculptures, life size image © designboom

copper-plated fiberglass sculptures, life size image © designboom

exhibition view image © designboom

close-up image © designboom

close-up image © designboom

close-up image © designboom

103 copper-plated fiberglass sculptures, exhibition view image © designboom

103 copper-plated fiberglass sculptures, exhibition view image © designboom 103 copper-plated fiberglass sculptures, exhibition view image © designboom

as the overarching theme of the biennale, ‘10,000 lives‘, is to be a tribute to the past – this year marks the 30th anniversary of the may 18 revolution (on may 18, 1980, a confrontation broke out in the city of gwangju between protesting students of chonnam national university and the armed forces dispatched by the martial law command).

the exhibition  attempts to present a series of case studies that explore our love for images and our need to create substitutes, effigies, and stands-ins for ourselves and our loved ones. it tells the story of people through the images they create and the images they leave behind, but it also follows the lives of images themselves, tracing their endless metamorphoses, from funerary statue to commercial propaganda, from religious icon to scientific tool, from a mirror of ourselves to a projection of our desires. the curator, massimiliano gioni said he hoped the gwangju biennale would emulate ‘more of a contemporary museum,’ as many older works and works by deceased artists will be on display.

gwangju biennale ‘10,000 lives’ artistic director : massimiliano gioni ( director of special exhibitions at the new museum in new york and artistic director of the nicola trussardi foundation, milan) venue : gwangju biennale hall , gwangju museum of art, gwangju folk museum host : gwangju biennale foundation, gwangju metropolitan city

  • STUNNING

    kibi says:
  • Regarding “our love for images” : Socialist Kitsch in a Contemporary Art Biennale is a very strong statement. The realism of the installation is heart breaking.

    Olef says:
  • amazing

    simona says:
  • AMAZING; each piece, pure art.

    Rodeux says:
  • It certainly succeeds in telling the story without the need for oratory. The facial expressions are very telling. Great work d;-)

    Jetwax says:
  • maybe liu wen-tsai should have been replaced by some filthy western CEO, Hu Jintao or even Mao himself. which would add a bit more relevance 40 years after … apart from the communist terracotta-army kitsch

    mtd says:
  • this is sooo famous, finally I can see it.
    I am studying art history and just found tiny images on books and on the net, thank you.

    jess says:
  • a question to the curator:
    To increase its potential impact as a “model,” as well as to spread its educational message, the Rent Collection Courtyard was quickly publicized and just like the operas, it underwent revisions. Replicas were put on display in Beijing and modifications were introduced. The 114 figures were increased to 119, some were remodeled, incorporating the ideas of workers, peasants, soldiers, and Red Guards. These revisions gave “bolder expression” to the “great and invincible thought of Mao tse-tung.” The most extensive changes were in the final section of the six-part display, the portion titled “Revolt.” Here sculptured figures held playcards with political slogans or a volume of Mao’s writings. The revised version was touted as a victory for Mao Zedong Thought.

    From Ellen Liang, The Winking Owl
    (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), p. 62.

    were they 103 or 114 or 119? says:
  • No attempt by any country of ‘revisionist history’ could over shadow the silent truth of the power of art; the unspoken word !

    Allen Robert Carrozza
    California

    Allen Robert carrozza says:
  • “Kitsch – art characterized by sentimental, often pretentious poor taste. It is typically clumsy, repetitive, cheesy and slickly commercial.” myfineart.co.uk/glossary

    This word was invented by a culture that attempted to wipe out all those who it believed would defile the purity of its divine bloodlines.
    I suggest that the “fine arts” world look at the language it uses to name its own values, especially because this world tends to reflect only a white, western view of what is “art”.

    These pieces are stunning, and this is their intent. I am in awe.

    gnarlygrrl says:
  • I keep thinking of the original student artists, working in humble materials, nameless now… (a student myself)

    ishouldbepainting says:
  • Wow. And there you have it. Art is timeless communication that transcends the limitation of language and culture. Stunning!

    Chiefy says:
  • Very realistic sculptures.

    Nanoverso says:
  • interesting!

    Mani says:
  • happening! impressive!

    lesinger says:
  • THAT IS SO POWERFULL!

    popi says:

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