Telescope: China | Telescope at OCAT Xi’an

Telescope: China | Telescope at OCAT Xi’an

See the May 6, 2014 post for Wu Xiaowu’s Telescope exhibition, Reservoir. 

The OCT Contemporary Art Terminal Xi’an (OCAT Xi’an) is the latest addition to the OCAT group of museums, now in five cities across China. The first was founded in Shenzhen in 2005 with a mission to support emerging and established contemporary Chinese artists, and produce exhibitions, lectures, and cultural programs on an international level.

Last year Karen Smith, one of the most important contemporary art writers and curators in China, was appointed Director of the newest OCAT museum in Xi’an. For her third exhibition she invited Telescope to propose a Wu Xiaowu project around “themes of ‘local’ culture in the context of the global world and of the relationship between traditional arts and contemporary practice” for their summer program. 

Historically Chinese people lived in community, surrounded by nature and family. Every family had its own plot of land where they could grow food to eat and raise pigs, chickens, and ducks. The new ‘Chinese Dream’ is a desire to shed their rural-ness and move to the city, live in high-rise apartment buildings, and join an international identity. 

For OCAT Wu expanded on his Telescope exhibition, Reservoir. On the floor of the museum he mapped out to scale a two dimensional blueprint of a typical new ‘Chinese dream’ house or apartment by using things that had been bought and collected for household use and then thrown out as the people consume more and more newer things. These accessories and their waste is not the way of the past, and the house is not like the traditional layout of a Chinese home either. The discarded objects Wu has found are cheap and broken, but they still hold traces of memory of time and place. As you walk through the rooms, stories are told through these objects and their relationships to each other and to each viewer’s past. In two of the rooms Wu has built towering mountains made of Xi’an earth. They are barren, haunting, and out of place. The house has grown up around them isolating them from their intended environment and perhaps relegating them to a future garbage heap that will be thrown out one day when they cease to be relevant. But these surreal peaks are strong and ancient and seem to have the wisdom to persevere even through the unstable and materialistic times of a new China.

See Telescope's website for more info on Wu Xiaowu: www.telescope-beijing.com.

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Tags: James Elaine, China, Beijing, Curator, Telescope