Seeing is Believing
A Chen Shaoxiong Solo Exhibition
Dates: 11 April – 17 May
Time: Tuesday – Sunday 11:00 – 18:00
Opening: 11 April, 16:00-18:00
Place: Boers-Li Gallery, Caochangdi No. A-8
Boers-Li Gallery is pleased to announce that Chen Shaoxiong will be featured in the next solo exhibition in the main space, Gallery I. Entitled Seeing is Believing; the exhibition will open to the public on 11 April and run through 17 May. Carrying on his recent critique of faith and the global financial infrastructure, the artist presents in these works the intangible and illegible as reminders of the malleability and insubstantiality of economic life.
Chen Shaoxing, born in 1962 in Shantou, Guangzhou province and currently based in Beijing, is best known for his humorous and deeply critical takes on urbanism, terrorism, public memory, and propaganda. Never limited to a particular style or media, his practice ranges from animated ink painting and video to performance, installation, painting, and photography. Rising to prominence for his interrogations of urban life in a rapidly developing Guangzhou as a member of the Big Tail Elephant collective, Chen Shaoxiong has since solidified his position on the international stage with a sense of political timeliness and aesthetic accomplishment.
Chen Shaoxiong’s work has been marked by a tenacious desire to function as response: in the urbanizing Guangdong of the 1990s, he worked through new forms of public life; after the terrorist attacks of the early 2000s, he presented options for avoiding future attacks; in the opening moments of the financial crisis in 2008, he invented BOCCA, the Bank of Chinese Contemporary Art. For his new solo exhibition, he continues this reaction to the current economic climate; now, however, he presents no alternative, no tactic of resistance.
Entering the gallery space, the viewer may find nothing at all. On a clear day—rare for Beijing this time of year—one may notice a series of letters along the gallery floor. Lettering installed in the elevated windows of the Western wall spells out the advertising slogans of a number of international banks: Citi Bank’s “Citi never sleeps,” positioned next to HSBC’s “The world’s local bank,” offers a certain type of accidental poetry. The afternoon sun casts the shadows of these and other slogans across the bare concrete floor.
The work attempt to elucidate the relationships between belief and capital. Riffing on the statement that “money is god,” the very existence of these financial institutions in the gallery space relies on the fortuitous coincidence of time and weather. The large gallery may indeed appear completely empty—but, as Chen Shaoxiong would say, “it exists when you believe.” As a response to global issues, art thus becomes an insubstantial shadow of the economic crisis.
Exposing the faith-based existence of concepts like globalization, the work’s reliance on both nature and belief ties the concept of universal exchange to that of god itself. The English exhibition title, borrowed from inspirational greeting card rhetoric, takes on new meaning: whatever you believe, you’re right. Money’s lack of intrinsic value is mirrored by the artificially achieved stock prices of banks reduced to shadows.
The project additionally functions as a critique of dominant practices of contemporary art in Beijing, oriented towards filling the city’s cavernous gallery spaces with ever-larger installation work. Here, the gallery remains empty, and the work never gains material existence.
The opening of the exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue documenting Chen Shaoxiong’s solo practice, extending from his participation in Big Tail Elephant to the current project. The book features an extensive archive of photographs and illustrations never before published accompanied by a critical text by Hou Hanru and a conversation between the artist and Pauline J. Yao.
Due to the weather- and light-dependent nature of this exhibition, we recommend that viewers come in the early- to mid-afternoon, and encourage calling first to maximize the potential of your visit.
If you require more information about the exhibition or have any general queries please contact us