Past Exhibition | Antenna Space

Southern Wind

Duration: 2015.07.28 - 2015.09.02
Hours: 11:00 AM - 06:30 PM
Artists:  GONG Jian, HAO Jingban, JIA Chun, LI Ran, SONG Jiayi, Adrian WONG, Nadim ABBAS, WANG Shang
Address: 202, 50 Moganshan Rd, Building 17, Shanghai, China
Antenna Space is delighted to present Southern Wind, group exhibition participated by GONG Jian, HAO Jingban, JIA Chun, LI Ran, SONG Jiayi, Nadim ABBAS, Adrian WONG and WANG Shang. The show is curated by LIU Ding.

In 2013, I visited Karl Marx’s grave in the Highgate Cemetery of Northern London; my encounter with some fellow Chinese there proved to me once again that perhaps Marxism had never been to China at all. It was just a series of vocabulary and expressions borrowed, and even hijacked, by another kind of political belief. Today people from China are still traveling around and shopping in London in the name of Marxism, even though they would also pay visits to Marx’s grave, hold oath-taking ceremonies, and present flowers. Actually I believe that those Communist Party members -- who got angry and threatened me to delete the contents in my cellphone when they found out that I was taking pictures of them -- did not really have any senses of intimacy with the portrait of the old man right before their eyes. Marxism, as a foreign language, has never been adopted properly or treated as China’s own child. It has always been just a name.

Since Deng Xiaoping’s Southern-Tour-Speech in 1992, “Southern Wind” has become an expression covered with political intentions from a pure noun describing natural phenomenon. It has been mentioned, superimposed, spread, and repeated in political discourses ceaselessly. It slowly occupied people’s experience which internalized by them in very short period, and eventually became a part of the universal values. In this sense, “Southern Wind” is not southern wind anymore, it has nothing to do with wind direction. As a concept attributed to geo-political category, the spread of “Southern Wind” reminds us that the process of the formation of ideology is a political will from above to below. It transformed into a kind of collective consciousness through wide spreading, and it could even become a seemingly self-evident “code-word” and a prescribed expression, when most people could not articulate its political connotations accurately.

In this accustomed experience and cognition, “Southern Wind” is a word full of meanings of the 1990s -- a poetic abstract noun with imagery of openness, hope, free spirit, and freshness; while the country’s wave of reform is underlying beneath it irresistibly. The wave successfully concealed politics into the logic and discourse of economic developments after 1989, it subtly makes everyone, including intellectuals and artists, involved into a hope towards democracy embedded in economic developments, which even started to become a kind of religious belief. Economic developments were gradually treated by people as content and target, even guidelines for behaviors and values, but not as a process and strategy to realize democracy.

“Southern Wind” makes the political intentions invisible, and it becomes the synonymous of “liberal” and “open”. It is such a powerful political strategy to identify, to rationalize those identified imageries, and to make them the basis of values. We can not deny that today all of us are walking according to a map which was made up by various types of political strategies and intentions. The paths and directions we see are also obstacles and barriers in our adventurous exploration.

Same things happened in Chinese contemporary art field after 2010: artistic capital, together with nationalism, swept through the art industry like hurricane, which was exactly the “Southern Wind” for art, and a directory map as well. Artists no longer have patience for humble and respectful dialogues with other fellow artists in the world; their works are wandering around in various exhibitions like empty shells. Artists, collectors, museums, curators, auction houses, and gallerists reach pleasure and confirmations in trading business again and again. And those artistic shells gradually integrated into this hurricane.

I believe that “Southern Wind”, as an exhibition title, is a good one. Thus I would take the risk to bring up an exhibition of which the contents are not directly related to its title. Here I would like to thank Mr. Wang Zi, the participating artists, and the Antenna Space for their trust and supports. The works exhibited are generally irrelevant to the thinking of “Southern Wind” as an invisible thing. This is an exhibition determined by free expressions of the artists plus multiple wills and intentions. I am not sure whether I could truly realize the inherent intentions of all the exhibited works, neither could I fully understand each participating artist’s innermost thoughts. However, exhibition is an invisible shell, an action worth the risk, and a bond that connects us; so we could stay together waiting for the disappearance of absolute signals in today’s hurricane.