Pre-Exhibition Press Conference : 13th Venice Architecture Biennale by Ying Tianqi
Curated by acclaimed Chinese contemporary art critic and curator—Wang Lin, notable Dutch independent curators—Karlyn De Jongh and Sarah Gold, and organized by Global Art Affairs Foundation (“GAA”) and Asia Art Center Beijing –“Traces of Centuries and Future Steps” exhibition will be held at the Palazzo Bembo located on the Grand Canal starting Aug. 29th, 2012. This exhibition features Chinese renowned artist Ying Tianqi’s Traces of Centuries Series pieces, including large installation art, audiovisual presentations, mixed media oil paintings, a total of 13 art pieces contribute to an amazing spectacle. Ying Tianqi will also be having inspirational forum discussions with other cutting-edge artists and architects from all over the world. Ying Tianqi is considered one of the most influential figures in the Chinese art history. His artworks have been widely recognized by the international academia, as he also participated in the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011. This year, Ying Tianqi’s Traces of Centuries Series again outshine others and have been admitted by the audit committee of International Architecture Exhibition of Venice Biennale to join this global art event, becoming the first Chinese artist invited to have his own solo exhibition there.
In recognition of this event, a pre-exhibition press conference was held by Asia Art Center Beijing at its gallery located in 798 Art District on June 1st, 2012. Artist Ying Tianqi especially made a 1:25 geometric model of Bembo Palace in order to allow media and guests come to understand the atmosphere of the exhibition ground in Italy. Furthermore, two major works: Imprisoned and Brick Soul were also being showcased in advance, impressing everyone onsite. Placed at center of the gallery was an enormous sculpture Brick Soul, an exaggerated replication, using modern technology, of a small relic that Ying gathered at Xidi Village in Anhui Province, China. The brick had its side engraved: “Xidi Shrine of Virtue and Piety,” which means it was especially erected to honor virtuous women in ancient China. Imprisoned, on the other hand, demonstrates the urbanization process in China nowadays. As the Chinese economy has continued its unprecedented streak of impressive growth through the start of this new century, China has become the world’s largest scene of site demolition and redevelopment. That long familiar urban culture has become alien, and the neighborhoods of our youths have disappeared to whereabouts unknown. Such topics and artistic spirit have attracted many media’s spotlight of attention even before the conference officially started, the scene was quiet lively.
Press conference started at 3pm. Besides organizer Asia Art Center, curator Wang Lin and artist Ying Tianqi, notable English independent art critic and curator Karen Smith was also invited as guest speaker. At the beginning, Alan Lee, General Manager of Asia Art Center Beijing, first pointed out the significance of Venice Biennale: “The Venice Biennale has for over a century been one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world, coinciding with two other major worldly art events: Kassel Document and the Bienal International de Sao Paulo. In Venice, it organizes international events in the field of the contemporary arts that are amongst the most important of their kind in the world. While the Venice Biennale takes place once every odd year, Venice International Architecture Biennale, the Architecture section of the Venice Biennale, takes place once every even year. The theme for the 13th Venice International Architecture Biennale, curated by the artistic director David Chipperfield, is “Common Ground.” The Venice Biennale will hold its grand opening on Aug. 29th, 2012, which is on the same day as Venice International Film Festival. It is very competitive to be selected, with criteria including: support from an excellent non-profit organization and an outstanding independent international curator, an excel exhibition space, and approved architectural concept and ideas, and we feel honored to have met all the requirements! Ying Tianqi is the first Chinese artist invited to participate both 2011 Venice Biennale and 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale for two consecutive years. This does not only show his creative works are being regarded highly in academic world, but it also lays the foundation for his esteemed role in eastern and western art history. We feel absolutely proud and honored as an organizer!”
Wang Lin, Chinese art critic and curator, also talked about the concept and formation of this exhibition core idea: “In this Venice Architecture Biennale, Ying Tianqi will have his own solo exhibition against 50 other architects from 25 countries. Unlike Ying Tianqi’s previous works of individual display, this exhibition takes into consideration the spatial concept and flowing plan of the whole exhibition ground. We could therefore say that the whole exhibition – a total of 13 art works, contribute to a single piece. I believe Ying Tianqi’s “Traces of Centuries and Future Steps” was recognized by the audit committee of International Architecture Exhibition of Venice Biennale because his works have been always closely and deeply connected to the Chinese architectural culture, its soil and ground In contrast to other artists who look into the possibilities of future space, Ying Tianqi treat current phenomenon through recollecting the past. Venice Biennale is an international platform for art exhibitions; it is a blessing to have such opportunity so that Ying Tianqi can exchange ideas with other excellent architectures and artists from all over the world.
Karen Smith then expressed her opinions about this exhibition: “I feel grateful to be invited here to share my thoughts. I was asked whether I think China is internationalized. Just to see that Ying Tianqi can participate Venice Biennale for two consecutive years prove that China has taken on a crucial role in the world. Back then, buildings in urban China were mostly designed by foreign architects. However, more and more Chinese architects are receiving global attentions; Wang Shu, the 2012 winner of Pritzker Architecture Prize, marks such milestone. The Chinese vision about architectures has become clearer to the world. I think the most important part about Ying’s work is that he inspires us to rethink the spiritual meaning and relationship between buildings and environment, that they not merely concrete, but living space.”
At last, Ying Tianqi emotionally stated: “Firstly, I sincerely thank you all for attending this press conference. It is a great honor to be part of the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale. Reflecting the 54th Venice Biennale, which I also participated about the same time last year, I feel sentimental. I think it is essential for Chinese contemporary art to step onto the global stage. Chinese accelerated economic growth has brought with it wealth but also hidden problems. As contemporary artists, if we believe our duty is to “point out the existing issues,” then we should carry on this responsibility! We should contemplate under a simple intellectual structure of de-institutionalize, de-commercialize, de-idolize, and de-nationalize, and further create contemporary art works that deserve global attention.” The press conference ended successfully.
The displayed works would be on their way to Venice once the press conference was over. The rest attendees including Asia Art Center representatives, curator Wang Lin, artist Ying Tianqi and his family, will arrive in Italy during the beginning of August and start their 10-day marathon decorating the site. Starting on Aug. 29th, “Traces of Centuries and Future Steps” at the 13th Venice International Architecture Biennale by Chinese Contemporary Artist Ying Tianqi at Palazzo Bembo is one worldly art event and spectacle that you should not miss!