Liu Ding
A story told to me by Wang Luyan, 2012

  • Photograph, text, oil on canvas, rope, text
  • Variable dimensions
  • Acquired in 2014
  • China Conceptual Art Installation

Liu Dings artworks are created in various different media – they include sculptural objects and installation spaces, plus conceptual performances and their documentation on video. The installation A story told to me by Wang Luyan, 2012, is a flashback which is concerned with the significance of context in the reception of an artwork. We see a photographic reproduction of a picture by an unnamed artist, a text by the artist in a frame, and a canvas stretched over a line, which Liu Ding has had made. On this canvas, we see a picture based on Liu Ding’s idea of a painting that his fellow artist Wang Luyan had described to him, but which Liu Ding has not seen to date. This is a historically significant painting: According to Wang Luyan, it was the first artwork »with protest quality to appear after the Cultural Revolution«. In the accompanying text, Liu Ding describes the genesis of the artwork, and also the history of how it has been understood. For him, the painting’s specific claim to significance is not based upon its intrinsic qualities; it is based on the exceptional framework within which it is presented, and the artwork’s ‘function’ as a mirror, a surface onto which a society caught up in a search for meaning projects its emotions. The manner in which A story told to me by Wang Luyan is presented – in several parts – reflects the fundamental possibilities of art, but it also reflects the limitations of speech, and of our capacity to picture things.

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