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Becoming - Experimental Video Works
by Zhang Fang

Center Associate of Liberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan e-mail: zfwqs@umich.edu

October 26 - December 23, 2019, Eli Klein Gallery, NYC.

Since 1996 my first encounter with contemporary Chinese art world in Beijing, twenty-three years have passed. From visiting aspiring painters' "appalling" art works in their apartments and village houses in mid 1990s, to the amazing massive installations of internationally celebrated artists in both public and private museums in China in late 201Os, I have been encouraged by the tremendous growth of artists' careers and public acceptance towards ever-provocative challenging flow of creativity. After more than three decades of hard work, many Chinese artists have carved out a turf of ingenuity in working out their own power of tackling issues about social transformation, cultural mishaps, political strife as well as personal struggle. Like artists whose profession is enriched by outside forces and inner motivation, I have been fulfilled by playing multi-roles, an artist's assistant/wife, an adjunct lecturer on contemporary art, an art-events organizer and curator besides being a daughter and a mother. All my life has been centered around art and life. I have a great deal in common, sharing empathy with many women artists in China. I admire HER persistence and perseverance. I feel compelled, personally empowered, to present a very personal HER perspectives. Through powerful visual languages/messages, these artists inspire us to uncover the artistic agency and subjectivity of womanhood.

We all are on the journey of Becoming.

Becoming is a predestined and progressive process during one's life journey perplexed by physical growth from birth, maturity to death and psychological struggle such as self-doubt, social unrest, political restrictions, cultural barriers... The process of "becoming" identifies the progress of coming to terms with this outside world and inner self at last, enjoying this imperfect world as it is and aspiring to become a perfect super-persona. "Becoming" is a journey to discover "Ben Zun" (the Enlightened), to achieve the state of manhood (inclusive of womanhood), meaning a state of happiness, tranquility and satisfaction with a "surreal" power beyond this mundane world. This ascent to becoming is elaborated by the experimental video works of Cui Xiuwen, Guo Zhen, He Chengyao, Hu Haibo, Hu Jiayi, Liu Qianyi, Wen Hui, and Xie Sichong created from 2000 up to the present.

The footnote embedded into this exhibition is that viewers involve their acute senses and sensibilities into understanding and re-live the artists' lives during the tumultuous times of instability, insecurity and inconsequentiality. From their perspectives, viewers can discover the representation and fruition of achieving "Ben Zun", an enlightened Karma embodied in motivations to seek for identity, individuality, freedom, independence, recognition, trust, and appreciation.
Curator Zhang Fang comments
on Zhen Guo's "Cleansing Moon"