Time Test: International Video Art Research Exhibition


【Academic】 Opening Lecture

Speaker: Dong Bingfeng, Wang Jianwei, Wang Jiahao, Lu Mingjun


Date: 2016.9.22

Venue: Hall 1, Redtory Museum of Contemporary Art (RMCA)


About the lecture: Redtory Museum of Contemporary Art (RMCA), CAFA Art Museum and the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum join up to organize “Time Test: International Video Art Research Exhibition”. It was curated by Caitlín Doherty, Dong Bingfeng and Wang Chunchen, which would be opened in Redtory Museum of Contemporary Art (RMCA), September, 22nd 2016, when artists, like Dong Bingfeng, Wang Jianwei, Wang Jiahao and Lu Mingjun and so on would participate in academic events.

【Academic】 Wang Gongxin: There is Nothing to See —— From “ Sky of Brookyln ”

Speaker: Wang Gongxin


Date: 2016.10.23

Venue: Hall 1, Redtory Museum of Contemporary Art (RMCA)


About the lecture: In this lecture, the artist Wang Gongxin introduced the thought process of finding the main line from the original, and discussed with the audience the possibility of using the language of the image to penetrate into the real life. Sharing the reality and perception of artists' creation, nihility and existence, the problem of the fracture between viewing and blocking.


About the speaker:Wang Gongxin, 1960 born in Beijing China, as the pioneer and one of the representatives for Video Art in China. Wang was admitted to the Capital Normal University academy of Fine Arts in 1978, and took the teaching post after graduation in 1982. In 1987, he went to State University of New York as a visiting scholar for master degree studying. In 2013, Wang nominated as Olivier Award for XL video award for best set design. In 2014, Honorary Doctoral degree in SUNY.  


Wang exhibited his work in his studio as the form of 'Open studio' in 1994 when he was back to China, he put forward the idea of the 'apartment art' in the middle of the 1990s in China. In 1995, he open studio again for his first video installation work: 'The sky of Brooklyn' in his courtyard house in Beijing. In 1996 in Hangzhou, Wang participated the first 'China Video Art' exhibition which was considered to be a historical significance. Wang founded 'Loft New Media Art Space' in 1999, and as its art director. 'Loft New Media Art Space' was the earliest nonprofit art space in China, and also the far-reaching significance for Avant-garde art, Art exchange and development for Chinese Video art. From 1996 to Now, lived and worked in New York.


Wang's works were exhibited in San Paulo Biennale, Taipei Biennial, Shanghai Biennial . National Art Museum of China, UCCA,Beijing. MOMA PS1, New York. Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. Tate Liverpool in UK . National Gallery of Victoria in Australia . SFMOMA,USA .Guggenheim Museum,NY and White Cube Gallery, HK.

Wang Gongxin | The Sky of Brooklyn — digging a hole in Beijing | 1995

RMCA Time Test: International Video Art Research Exhibition Exhibition Work


WANG GONGXIN COMPLETED The Sky of Brooklyn in 1995, perhaps invigorated by his return to Beijing from New York that year. He hired laborers to dig a three-meter pit inside his small house in the Dongsi neighborhood of Beijing. At the bottom of the pit he placed a video monitor showing a recording of the Brooklyn sky filmed from the roof of his old New York apartment. In China of the 1990s, when video was not yet widespread as an art form, the technical language of this artwork was very simple. Yet, since Wang used his own home to make the work site-specific, it demonstrates a strict conceptual logic that ingeniously combines the elements of the geographical relationship between New York and Beijing, a transplanted site, and a switch in the artist’s location and identity. 

Wang Gongxin | The Sky of Brooklyn — digging a hole in Beijing | 1995

RMCA Time Test: International Video Art Research Exhibition Exhibition Work


Beijing did not yet have commercial galleries and art museums, so digging a hole at home was more a necessity than a choice. But it was this necessity that led Wang Gongxin to introduce site as a concept: what is the difference between a well dug at one’s own home and one dug in an exhibition space? Of course, in the case of this particular artwork, the two are not interchangeable. If I remember correctly, The Sky of Brooklyn was the first work to make the conceptual shift from an unspecified space to a particular site, and to begin paying attention to the identity and memory the place itself holds. (Not long after this, the Chinese word xianchang [locale or liveness], which is similar to changyu [site], began to appear regularly in criticism.) The shift in thinking from space to site represents the product of a typical conceptual art education, putting it at odds with the spontaneous language of art in China, which at that time most valued expressiveness and intuition.


Wang Gongxin | The Sky of Brooklyn — digging a hole in Beijing | 1995

RMCA Time Test: International Video Art Research Exhibition Exhibition Work

Perhaps because it was based so fully on the idea of site, The Sky of Brooklyn can never be reproduced, and, if we rely on visual documentation, we forget the voice that comes from the bottom of the well:

“What do you think you’re looking at? There’s nothing to see.” “There are a few clouds in the sky…” “There’s nothing to see.”

This a recording of the artist’s own voice; it sounds like he’s talking to himself. In the United States, when children play at digging holes, parents often joke that “If you keep digging you’ll get to China,” or, if a child is being naughty, they might tell him or her to “Go and dig a hole to China”—clearly China is a place to burn off energy. In China, on the other hand, we have the fable of the frog in the well, whose understanding of the world is limited by his view of the sky; the saying mixes together feelings of discomfort and boredom. There are many contradictions between the two, but these twin sensations are always present in Wang Gongxin’s work.


Wang Gongxin | Blood Stained Auction | 2015

Wang Gongxin | Blood Stained Auction | 2015
The audible installation consisting of five large screens presents an “overlapping” or “disordered” “viewing” site that renders into a scene of Blood Stained Auction. Resembling the “old flicks” montaged with archival fragments, various scenes, objects and the personas of various periods, are presented on the five screens in order, the figures and scenes of the famous sketch Blood Stained Shirt are slowly revealed. Blood Stained Shirt is an epic “revolutionary realist” painting by the Chinese artist Wang Shikuo from the 1950s, it recreated the scene of “struggling against the landlord” at the farmers’ gathering in the new China. Wang Gongxin mixes and reorganizes the prominent figures and compositional elements with the scene of an art auction of the present. The class struggle, the angered masses and the woman making an accusation in Blood Stained Shirt translate into the anxious audience at an art auction. With the “mix-up” of this non-linear narrative, and the representational aesthetics of the “old flick” rendered with archival footages from old films, the artwork slowly becomes an overlapping scene of familiar yet bewildering “history” and the “present”. The five videos plays synchronously while the details of the segmented scenes and objects are switched in a timely fashion. As the viewer steps into the exhibition space, the artist attempts to create a “presence” of “a state of mind”.


【Academic】 Feng Mengbo: Apple Diary

Speaker: Feng Mengbo


Date: 2017.1.14

Venue: Hall 1, Redtory Museum of Contemporary Art (RMCA)


About the lecture:Artist Feng Mengbo since his first personal computers started to speak, back to his early slide show, movie and drama, the influence of video, computer and network to his meaning, how about a from the electronic game otaku grow into the artist's story, and audience to discuss the possibility of video and media art in the future and its questions to them.

About the speaker:

When I went to Beijing in 1993 to write about Chinese contemporary art, I was told about a group of painters who represented the apogee of romanticism, about some formalists, about some politicos, and about the nerds.  Feng Mengbo was the king of the nerds.  What has been interesting to observe since then is that he is also, in fact, both a romantic and a formalist, and that while most of his art is not explicitly about politics, a political consciousness peeks through it.  Feng Mengbo’s intelligence compasses not only varied styles, but also varied sensibilities.  He can deposit longing in the cold aesthetics of the computer age; he can suffuse a vision of the future with the nostalgia of history. Even when his work is about killing and mayhem, it remains tinged with a residual sweetness. Even when it is about achieving and relinquishing power, it remains self-deprecating.  The work may vaunt; the gloss of the automatic, but Feng Mengbo is always in it, explicitly or implicitly, sometimes a captive in his own video game, holographically transplanted into the hostile terrain of virtual monsters and enemy combatants, and sometimes only the author of such dark, heroic worlds.  "

——Excerpt from  the article Feng Mengbo,1-bit

written by  Andrew Solomon in 2009


Feng Mengbo | Apple Diary | 1994

RMCA Time Test: International Video Art Research Exhibition Exhibition Work | E9 Gallery


Apple Diary (1994)

Artist Statement on Apple Diary:

In autumn 1993, I bought my first personal computer, an Apple LCII, and the next day I bought a Korg M1. I later used Aldus Persuasion, the only software on the computer, to practice painting and master the techniques of multi-layered electronic slides. I also taught myself to play the M1 and use a multi-track MIDI editor; I used a four-track tape recorder and a MiniDisc to practice recording and mixing music. In 1994, the forty-two panel painting Game Over: Long March was shown at Hanart TZ in a solo exhibition of the same name. The piece was collected by Guy and Myriam Ullens. The digital projection of the piece was carried on two 1.44 MB floppy disks and a MiniDisc, and presented using two Apple computers and a MiniDisc player. In the exhibition preface and interview, I claimed that this was a draft for a video game I wanted to make in the future. The interactive installation Long March: Restart was finally completed fourteen years later in 2008 and exhibited at the UCCA. While I was making Game Over, I used my computer to make Apple Diary, recording bits of daily life, including painting, eating, watching cartoons, playing on the computer, browsing music, being awakened by fire trucks in the middle of the night, and the bizarre dreamland in which Chairman Mao stands at an intersection trying to flag down a taxi.


Feng Mengbo | My Private Album | 1996

RMCA Time Test: International Video Art Research Exhibition Exhibition Work | E9 Gallery

Feng Mengbo | Q4U | 2002


Feng Mengbo | Long March: Restart | 2008


Feng Mengbo | 195806 | 2015

Collection of RMCA

 “ I have numerous wall charts in my collection. One of them is about atomic bombs, which does particularly appeal to me.

China once saw divided opinion about atomic bombs. Until China’s first ever launch of an atomic bomb in Lop Nur at 3 p.m., Oct. 16th, 1964, Chinese were against atom bombs. However, they did not oppose the Soviet Union’s plan of using atom bombs to contend against the United States.

Based on the Wall Chart For Residents against Atomic Weapons, I have made a film called 195806, named after the publication date of the chart.

I am also intrigued by the localization of those Soviet images, which was basically the history of fine arts in modern China.

The film only features several images of the wall chart, which I used to turn days into nights. Although between every two images are only 4-minute intervals, they may seem unbearably long for the audience. The character, hiding in the shade, falls into a eternal sleep. The pedals of a fallen bicycle in the farmland has stopped spinning. Black smoke comes out of the chimney afar. Rain in front of the camera keeps washing everything in the world in vain, filled with the aroma of the soil.” 

Feng Mengbo | Short Wave | From 2015 till now

【Academic】Dong Bingfeng: Video Art in China: From a Critical Perspective

Speaker: Dong Bingfeng


Date: March, 4th 2017

Venue: Hall 1, Redtory Museum of Contemporary Art (RMCA)


About the lecture: 

About the exhibition: in fact, every review project with a historical theme is a new research. We should recognize the historical situation and main direction from different perspectives of different researchers. But it could be limited. Video Art has a short development history in China. There are many ongoing creations, as well as problems. So we hope the organization of this exhibition can be a procedure in which we can raise problems. I believe this exhibition is open in mind to a certain degree. 

The history and discussions of video art in China: since the 1990s, contemporary art in China has been international as part of the global art. In 1990, several large Chinese contemporary art exhibitions held abroad laid the main issue and historical development of Chinese contemporary art. So in the memorabilia of video art, some overseas exhibitions with great importance are also been discussed. In 1997 and 2013, the Museum of Modern Art in New York held largescale and comprehensive activities on Chinese video art. The exhibition in 2013 summed up the development of moving image art, including video art, independent film, documentary and so on, in 25 years between 1988 to 2013. So I believe that introduction and discussion of international exhibitions are also important in the research of Video Art in China. In China, Video Art includes not only breakthrough image creations of artists but also considerable procedural changes in the systems from universities, mainstream official art museums to international platforms. The historical context of Video Art in China and some main problems we discussed today are promoted and improved by these changes in varying degrees. Of course, the memorabilia and the development of video art in China are not steady and linear. There are a lot of instabilities during the procedure. Points of researches between projects are somehow different, even antagonistic. 

Video practice as the contemporary art: during the creations of the early Chinese  artists, the video is only a medium. In 1988, when Zhang Peili was creating, he didn’t fully understand the concept and historical background of Video Art. In all Zhang’s creations in the 1980s, the core art concepts of his paintings and videos are quite similar to some extent. Brushes and cameras were only the extensions of the visual media, or in other words, the means of creation. He employed the history and aesthetics of Western video art as his starting point of reference. After the 1990s, Chinese video art has been actually developed with the frequently international communications and information exchanges.

Michael Rush is the early curator of the first part of “Time Test”, “Moving Time”. He is also a famous researcher on image art and media art. One of his major ideas is that there is no Video Art in China. Video art in China is only record of performance art. It’s just RECORD. Wang Peng’s video works in 1984, as I mentioned just now, are in line with Rush’s idea. So whether works of early video artists like Zhang Peili, Song Dong, and Li Yongbin are records of performance act? Here is my answer: yes, and no. Zhang Peili has an interesting point about the first exhibition of video art. His original words are: for single-screen video, the content is more important; for multiscreen video, the frame is more important. During the exhibition of multiscreen video (Health) III, we can see the concept of displaying repeated screen, the combination of setting televisions and the planning of viewers and exhibition space, which means video, or this video media, have become a part of a contemporary art exhibition.

The video is not only the record of performance art or something else, but an exhibition. Now, perhaps our attitude of Rush’s view of video art in China has been changed. His impressions are about the recording and documentary nature of video art in China. These records, together with artists’ performance and other recording media (such as photography), are constituent parts of the creations of these artists. However, we can see in Zhang Peili’s and Chen Shaoxiong’s works that the exhibition of video art and the choices artists did to make a video have been advanced or emphasized art concepts.

After the early 1990s, video art can be regarded as an independent category of contemporary art, rather than a marginal subject. “Personal Image Pattern” since the 1990s: in 1988, Zhang Peili showed his first video art 30X30; Zhang Yuan started t shoot his first independent film MaMa; Wu Wenguang started to film his first independent documentary Bumming In Beijing. These works were known as “independent film” and “video art” after 1990. It’s important that great change has occurred in the system after 1989.

In the early 1990s, the official system and the mainstream ideology started to change with the beginning of the market economy. Personal creations, especially those independent films and image creations with the background of the system, began to be possible. Of course, more importantly, we can not ignore the contradiction between the attitude behind the videos towards the official ideology and the freedom of creation.

Today, in the ever-changing era, it’s harder and harder for Video Art to express new problem consciousness in a new visual perception environment. Especially after 2000, the film has become the first choice for many artists in their video creations.

In the exhibition of “Chinese Video Art” in RMCA, we consciously organized a unit, Film Turn, to present cinematic video works of Jia Zhangke, Yang Fudong, Wang Bing, Mao Chenyu, Cheng Ran, as well as Chen Jieren from Taiwan. We do it to explore the cinematic nature of Video Art.

And we discuss the fundamental change of film when it was presented in a gallery as an audio-visual art language and a way of an exhibition.

Video Action: our discussion of Video Art should be consistent to the question of contemporary art. In other words, contemporary artists should not only explore the art concept itself, but also reflect on social and cultural issues. These changes are synchronized with social development. We discover the society in art works while we experience the breadth and depth of art practice in society. That is to say, we can observe the nature and core of society more deeply in some art works and art discussions. We can do so in Video Art. Mao Chenyu, an artist who joined the exhibition of “Time Test”, is an independent filmmaker. We can also call him an intellectual of rural construction. He farms, brews and investigates local customs. In recent years, he has participated in contemporary art exhibitions frequently, including Shanghai Biennale in this year. All his works under the theme of “Paddy Film” are inspired in his specific land-related work in more than ten years. The work he did, such as his written works, was both clear but abstract because of the artistic creation and production of knowledge in it. In his Paddy Films, we can see not only a series of documentaries and experimental video art works, but also research background of China’s land system, rural modernization, rural knowledge and modern experience. His works can be said to be a realistic reflection based on China’s reality, and also the “political” demands of art experiments. Images and cameras are not only art or tools, but also a concrete social action and a process of social transformation.

【Tour】Curator:Dong Bingfeng


【Tour】Museum Tour