UB to Display Groundbreaking Chinese Art Exhibition

Release Date: February 5, 2004 This content is archived.


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An historic and groundbreaking exhibition of contemporary Chinese art will be on display in the UB Art Galleries and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in 2005.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- "The Wall: Reshaping Contemporary Chinese Art," the largest exhibition of contemporary Chinese art to travel beyond China, will be on display in the UB Art Galleries and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in 2005.

The exhibition is the first collaboration between U.S. art museums and a significant Chinese art institution-the China Millennium Monument Art Museum in Beijing-to focus on contemporary Chinese art.

Organized by Gao Minglu, assistant professor in the Department of Art History in the UB College of Arts and Sciences and a leading authority on 20th and 21st century Chinese art, "The Wall," will be an interdisciplinary cultural event that will include publication of a bilingual catalog, a film festival, educational programs, performance art, and music and dance programs, as well as the art exhibition.

After opening at the China Millennium Monument Art Museum in Beijing in Spring 2005, "The Wall" will be installed jointly in the UB Art Galleries-in both the UB Art Gallery in the Center for the Arts, North Campus, and the UB Anderson Gallery on Martha Jackson Place near the South Campus-and in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 1285 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo.

The exhibition will open on Oct. 1, 2005, and remain on view through Jan. 8, 2006. It is anticipated that "The Wall" then will travel to three other venues in the United States before closing in Hong Kong.

"Aptly titled 'The Wall,' this collaborative, international exhibit is both historic and electrifying, not only for its size and scope, but because of art's unique ability to transcend all geographic borders and cultural walls," said UB President John B. Simpson.

"UB is very proud to be a part of this extraordinary exhibit, which highlights several of our university's greatest resources: the expertise of Professor Gao from our Department of Art History, who has been widely recognized as one of the world's foremost scholars of contemporary Chinese art; UB's state-of-the-art galleries; our strong history of collaboration with the Albright-Knox, and our new partnership for 'The Wall' with the China Millennium Monument Art Museum," Simpson added.

"The collaborative effort involved in this exhibit has scanned the globe to bring the best to UB and to Buffalo Niagara, and that's truly exciting."

Sandra H. Olsen, director of the UB Art Galleries, said that when Gao approached her with the project, she instantly recognized the potential for collaboration and community involvement. "Given our mission to educate and bring cutting-edge contemporary art to Buffalo, this seemed a perfect opportunity," Olsen said. "The work of Chinese contemporary artists has been virtually unknown to the Western world for much too long."

Due to the size and scope of the exhibition and its related events, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery offered to collaborate with the Millennium Museum and UB on the exhibition.

"The Albright-Knox is on the cusp of a new era in programming and joins this groundbreaking project with enthusiasm," noted Louis Grachos, gallery director. " The Wall'" will allow an unprecedented cultural exchange and help us to fulfill our mission to exhibit the best contemporary art in the world."

While the Great Wall of China certainly will come to the minds of visitors to the exhibition, Gao pointed out that there are several interpretations of walls in Chinese culture.

"'The Wall' can be interpreted as a physical or architectural form, such as the Great Wall or other various walls in a living space; as a modernization project that has posed a challenge in China, such as the Three Gorges Dam Project, or as a cultural and social boundary experienced by Chinese citizens," he explained, noting that these three interpretations provide the intellectual framework for the exhibition.

Zheng Lianjie's "Big Explosion Series," 1993, documents a performance on the Great Wall. The photographs show bricks salvaged from where they had fallen over time, wrapped in red ribbon and placed randomly along the top of the wall as far as the eye can see. The performers have thus "rebuilt" the wall, but changed its physical character in the process.

In Song Haidong's installation "The Earth in the Eye of the Extraterrestrial," 1989, the Berlin Wall effectively minimizes the status of the Great Wall of China as the ultimate cultural and social boundary. A reference to the old debate as to whether the Great Wall can be seen from space-it can-this wall is tied to the surface of a globe, protruding from it more than any other feature.

"The Wall" also will survey how the current practice of art making, though embedded in the tradition of Chinese civilization, reflects the complicated and rapidly changing Chinese cultural landscape and China's transformation from an agricultural society to a modern, urbanized country. Most of the research and selection of works have been completed on-site in different regions of China. As a result, the organizers have discovered many talented, emerging artists.

To help lay the groundwork for "The Wall," the UB Art Galleries recently co-sponsored "Chinese Maximalism," a smaller exhibition of contemporary Chinese art, also organized by Gao. The exhibition, which opened in the China Millennium Monument Art Museum in March, opened at UB on Oct. 18 and is on view through Saturday.

Support for "The Wall" is being provided by UB, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the China Millennium Monument Art Museum, the Asian Cultural Council, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and the Interdisciplinary Research and Creative Activities Fund from the Office of the Vice President for Research at UB.

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John Della Contrada
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