Long March Project: Buiding Code Violations III – Special Economic Zone
At present, studies of free trade zones around the world focus on how these operational spaces serve as policy tools and infrastructure to facilitate global economic integration. Yet in China, Special Economic Zones—which sprung up right after the nation’s economic reform began in 1978—are not simply just windows to the outside world welcoming foreign capital and technology, but experimental sites to cope with a series of epistemological ruptures created by the reform in almost all aspects of life. “Time is money”; “science and technology are primary productive forces”: such catchphrases help to encapsulate our technological, temporal and cultural landscape. As art historians tend to postulate economic reform in China to be the starting point of Chinese contemporary art as we know it, the exhibition is a Bildungsroman that narrates the life stories of the children of reform—contemporary art, the market economy, and the development of science and technology. We ask how “they” would contemplate the technological shift that has occurred since the beginning of reform and opening-up.
Reflecting on technology, the key is how to approach and grasp the supposed equilibrium between “human-technology-nature.” Looking at mainstream views on science and technology in Chinese society today, focus is placed on the exact opposite: people emphasize how to create further disequilibrium. Yet there can be no simple dualist binaries when thinking about these complex relationships, and a plethora of perspectives is needed to accurately cross-reference the issue.
The exhibition is co-presented by Long March Project together with Guangdong Times Museum. In a context-sensitive manner, it looks at the unfinished discursive development of technology as well as the temporalities that could have been otherwise, projecting itself towards the politics of speed, which is intrinsically linked to the present.
Artists: Cui Jie, Junyuan Feng, Hao Jingban, Li Wenguang, Liang Shaoji, Liang Yongtai, Liao Bingxiong, Liu Chuang, Lu Chunsheng, Wang Jianwei, Wu Shanzhuan, Wu Shanzhuan & Inga SvalaThorsdottir, Xu Qu, Yan Lei, Zheng Yuan
Curatorial Team:Long March Project
Li Xiaofei: Ponytails
Meanwhile, another exhibition Li Xiaofei: Ponytails presents more than 20 videos and sculptures that Li Xiaofei created in 2018. The work begins with the production site as image in his “Assembly Line Project” from 2010. If we want to understand Li’s work, we must take into account the complex reality of China’s industrialization process today. However, the artist does not intend to take a stance of criticism. He describes himself as having a level, impartial perspective when entering the production site, believing that there’s not a significant difference between him and the workers. Besides questions of family background, this kind of self-understanding can help one more directly access a reality that should not be generalized. In the face of endless information, Li steps back to take the stance of an observer.
Therefore, what we see in his work is a scene of workers and production lines, rather than images that were artificially made. Li’s only edits to the images were color adjustments to make the tone paler, which heightens its semblance to the scenes and reaches a stunning effect of calmness and impartiality. Bodies and scenes become their own language, wherein symbols (e.g. words, concepts) are no longer necessary, the body becomes a protagonist on the screen. In contrast to language, its sophistication transcends definition.
Guangdong Times Museum is adjacent to an industrial area that is in the process of being demolished. The contrast between Li’s work and the rapidly changing landscape outside the Museum allow us to reexamine urbanization. Perhaps we can say that how we see determines how we act.
Curator: Liang Jianhua
Guangdong Times Museum
Times Rose Garden III
Huang Bian Bei Road, Bai Yun Avenue North
510095 Guangzhou | China
Liu Chuang, Special Economic Zone, 2018. Film. Courtesy of the artist and Magician Space