From a Poem to the Sunset

First part of an exhibition series with new acquisitions of contemporary Chinese and international art

May 1st — October 18th 2015
Daimler Contemporary Berlin
Online documentation

In 2013, the Daimler Art Collection began adding a significant new aspect to its international profile, with the acquisition of more than 40 artworks by about 20 Chinese artists. From this year on, these new acquisitions will be presented to the public in an exhibition series in Berlin. These works by Chinese artists relate well to the Daimler Art Collection’s areas of special interest: the area of abstract and conceptual tendencies, and the “new media” area. At the same time, they form a new complex of their own within the fabric of the collection, which is culturally and aesthetically distinctive. In choosing which artists and which movements to incorporate, the Daimler Art Collection focused on art trends in the major centers: Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong (incl. Hong Kong). A forward-looking purchasing strategy was adopted, aided by in-depth research on location. Major artworks by artists who are already internationally well-known were acquired, and artworks by members of the younger generation of artists (born circa 1980) who are as yet unknown in our country were also discovered. Taken together, these new acquisitions for the Daimler Art Collection offer an insight into a country – a country that is both fascinating and the subject of controversy – that will be of great critical and global significance to the 21st century: not only because of its thousand years of tradition, but, above all, because of its rapid economic and cultural development.

This exhibition series in Berlin will present the recent Chinese acquisitions in the context of the Daimler Art Collection. This “dialogue” with international artistic concepts will bring out the unique qualities of the new acquisitions, but it will also bring out parallels and relationships in the form of shared artistic concerns. The first part of the exhibition – From a Poem to the Sunset – is primarily devoted to conceptual tendencies, which first became observable in contemporary Chinese art in the mid-1980s but which, notwithstanding this, form the basis of the working methods of many younger artists.

Furthermore an extensive program of supporting events accompanies the exhibition series. At the heart of this is a series of talks: an autonomous forum on specifically Chinese themes that will bring together a selection of art protagonists from China, with the hosts acting in the role of moderator. The talks will concern the artistic background and ethos behind the presented artworks, alongside fundamental issues and current themes of cultural and social development in China. The discussions, lectures and performances will give the artists featured in the exhibitions the opportunity to speak. Furthermore it is planed to host a multi-day symposium in Berlin, which will bring together some of the most knowledgeable protagonists on this subject from the international academia. The insights arising out of these events are going to be published online, and in an accompanying publication, which will be released at the beginning of 2016.

Curated by Dr. Renate Wiehager and Christian Ganzenberg
Curatorial advisor: Andreas Schmid

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Artists

Events

  • Tuesday June 16th 2015
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    In Dialogue: Li Zhenhua and Feng Boyi - Two perspectives on China
    Li Zhenhua studied at the ICA in London. Today, he is a multimedia artist, curator, and producer, and the initiator of a variety of projects relating to new media in the Chinese context and beyond. He currently lives in Shanghai and Zürich. Li’s achievements include founding “Laboratory Art Beijing” – a platform for new media, research and international exchanges – and curating the film section at Art Basel in Hong Kong 2016.
    Feng Boyi first studied history at the Capital Normal University, Peking, followed by art history at the Central Academy of Fine Arts. Today, he is one of the best-known independent artists and art historians in China. His hotly debated exhibitions and publications have a major impact on current art discourse in China. This dialogue between two art curators is intended to shed light on recent cultural developments in China, from two distinct perspectives.

    This event will be conducted in Chinese and English.
  • Wednesday June 24th 2015
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    Performance of “The Physique of Consciousness” by Xu Zhen with an introductory talk by David Elliott
    “The Physique of Consciousness” is a sequence of 200 “cultural fitness exercises”, the product of many years of study of human thought behavior and body language by the artist Xu Zhen and his firm “MadeIn Company”, which was founded in 2010. These exercises are accumulations of ceremonies, forms of worship, and traditions from a variety of different contexts. Xu studied at the School of Arts and Design in Shanghai. As an artist, curator and producer, he inquires into the historic traditions and ideologies of our time, and the influence of the present-day art system on artistic authorship. The performance will be accompanied by a lecture by David Elliott, curator, publicist and co-author with Xu of a 2014 monograph. He has headed various different art institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford, and the Mori Museum in Tokyo. In 2008, Elliott was holder of the Rudolf Arnheim guest professorship at the Institute for Art and Visual History of the Humboldt University, Berlin. Today, he is a guest professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

    This event will be conducted in English.
  • Friday July 3rd 2015
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    Lecture by Johnson Chang, Hong Kong: "Three parallel art worlds. Reading and understanding Chinese contemporary art"
    Johnson Chang from Hong Kong is a co-founder of the “Asia Art Archive” and the “International Association of Art Critics Hong Kong” (AICAHK), and is also a guest professor at the China Art Academy, Hangzhou. As a gallerist and independent curator, he began to bring Chinese contemporary artists into a global context in the early 90s, and has striven to achieve more global recognition for Chinese contemporary art. Johnson Chang is a co-founder of Asian Art Archive (www.aaa.org.hk), which has, since 2000, been the first archive to collect and to document Chinese art, and Asian art in general. Chang will speak about his newest project: a “frame” for “reading and understanding"Chinese contemporary art. This event will be conducted in English.
  • Saturday July 4th 2015
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    Guided Tour - The Chinese identity in contemporary art: combining progress and tradition
    This exhibition offers an introduction to Chinese contemporary art, and also to everyday life and culture in China. China is a politically controversial nation characterized by radical upheavals and changes of direction, and also a nation that can look back on a millennia-old cultural heritage. Since the 1990s, China has been notable for its extremely rapid economic growth. All of this has significant implications for the sense of identity that exists among China’s population. This rapid fast-forward progress to globalization can also be seen in China’s art. This themed tour will be primarily concerned with discussing the sociopolitical conditions that affect present day art production in China.

    The tour will be held in German language.
  • Saturday July 4th 2015
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    Performance "Remembering Gray" by Sarah Browne
    The Irish artist Sarah Browne has a commissioned artwork in several parts in the exhibition entitled "From Margin to Margin (Looking for Eileen)", 2010/2015. In this artwork, she recalls the designer Eileen Gray. For the conclusion of the project, the artist commissioned a poem that achieves a new and independent form every time it is displayed. In Berlin, this is done with the aid of carrier pigeons, which were released at the opening, and will fly again on the following dates: 13th June, 4th July, 15th August. Seven carrier pigeons are released from the balcony of Haus Huth. They carry the poem out into the world, secured to their feet. You can participate in this special art project by watching the release of the pigeons.
  • Saturday July 11th 2015
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    Children’s workshop
    Our 2-hour workshops are designed for primary school children aged between 6 and 10 years. At Daimler Contemporary we will carry out experiments with colors and techniques, linked to the current exhibition 'From a Poem to the Sunset’. We will look at the interactions between text and image, let the art tell stories, and develop artworks through movement, gesture and dance.

    Please register at art.collection@daimler.com.
  • Saturday July 18th 2015
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    Artist talk - Liu Ding and Natalie Czech
    Liu Ding (*1976 in Changzhou, CHN) lives and works as an artist and curator in Peking. His conceptual work, which exists somewhere on the borderline between installation and painting, investigates mechanisms and rules in the art system, and the conditions under which history is written. In 2009, he represented his country at the 53rd Venice Biennale. There have been a large number of international exhibitions of his work since his first solo exhibition at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle, USA, 2012. Natalie Czech (*1976 in Neuss, D) lives and works in Berlin. Her artworks oscillate between poetry and conceptual photography.
    Czech playfully investigates the interactions of images, texts, poetry, and art, thereby revealing a recurring lyrical potential. Solo exhibitions of her work have appeared at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, at the Philara collection in Düsseldorf, and the Galerie Polistar in Istanbul, among others. At this event, parallels and differences in the artistic practice of these two concept artists – two artists who belong to the same generation, but come from very different cultures and social backgrounds – will be discussed.

    This event will be conducted in German.
  • Saturday July 25th 2015
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    Guided Tour - Conceptual Calligraphies
    In many of the artworks in this exhibition, poems serve as linguistic inspiration, or as a means of artistic expression. This tour focuses on poetic concept photography (Natalie Czech), filmic memory images (Qiu Zhijie), fluttering purpose-written poems (Sarah Browne), and the pseudo-calligraphies of Zheng Guogu. These visual poesies permit a kaleidoscope-live view of both text and images, which offers diversity in the place of fixed structures.

    The tour will be held in German language.
  • Saturday August 15th 2015
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    Guided Tour - Reception and revision of historic concept art
    Many of the artists featured in the exhibition have an interest in historic concept art in the Western tradition. The classic conceptual parameters are concerned with systematically reflecting the framework conditions, context, presentation modes and discourse structures of art; here, these conceptual characteristics and methods are combined with a critical revision. Can these current reworkings of the 'canon’ of conceptual art offer a new perspective on them in the ‘historicizing’ sense? Do Chinese conceptual artworks have specific national characteristics? Under conditions of ongoing globalization, how closely linked are Chinese and international art trends?

    The tour will be held in German language.
  • Saturday August 15th 2015
    -
    Performance "Remembering Gray" by Sarah Browne
    The Irish artist Sarah Browne has a commissioned artwork in several parts in the exhibition entitled "From Margin to Margin (Looking for Eileen)", 2010/2015. In this artwork, she recalls the designer Eileen Gray. For the conclusion of the project, the artist commissioned a poem that achieves a new and independent form every time it is displayed. In Berlin, this is done with the aid of carrier pigeons, which were released at the opening, and will fly again on the following dates: 13th June, 4th July, 15th August. Seven carrier pigeons are released from the balcony of Haus Huth. They carry the poem out into the world, secured to their feet. You can participate in this special art project by watching the release of the pigeons.
  • Saturday September 5th 2015
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    Guided Tour - Aesthetic considerations in photography and film
    Alongside artists whose interest is in what are regarded as the ‘classic’ artistic media, this exhibition presents a number of complex installations in the field of new media. In their photographic and filmic artworks, these artists often reference other actual artworks, or traditional forms. Aside from the photography/film transpositions, this tour traces the diverse forms of quotations, and the wide-ranging connections to other artworks that serve as models and inspirations.

    The tour will be held in German language.
  • Tuesday September 15th 2015
    -
    Daimler Contemporary Berlin (1st floor)
    Symposium - Chinese contemporary art since 2000
    Welcome: Dr. Renate Wiehager

    6:30-7:30 pm
    Artist talk and book launch with Cao Fei

    7:30-8:30 pm
    Moderated discussion with Anselm Franke (Berlin) and Carol Lu (Beijing)
  • Wednesday September 16th 2015
    -
    Daimler Contemporary Berlin (1st floor)
    Symposium - Chinese contemporary art since 2000
    10:20 am – 11:00 am
    The change of the role of painting and its development 2000 – 2015
    Speaker: Pu Hong, Beijing

    11:10 am – 11:50 am
    Ink splash painting 2000 - 2015
    Speaker: Britta Erickson, Palo Alto (CA)

    12:00 pm – 12:40 pm
    Calligraphy: Between extinction and the new role of script in Chinese contemporary art
    Speaker: Lu Dadong, Hangzhou

    2:00 pm – 2:40 pm
    Installation Art in China 2000 - 2015
    Speaker: Birgit Hopfener, Berlin

    2:50 pm – 3:30 pm
    Conceptual Tendencies in China 2000 - 2015
    Speaker: Su Wei, Beijing

    4:00 pm – 4:40 pm
    Photography in China 2000 - 2015
    Speaker: Karen Smith, Xian

    4:50 pm – 5:30 pm
    Video art in China 2000 - 2015
    Speaker: Andreas Schmid, Berlin

    6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
    Alternative Spaces and recent trends in Chinese contemporary art
    Speaker: Carol Lu, Beijing

    Moderator: Wiebke Hahn
  • Saturday September 26th 2015
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    Guided Tour - Artistic transformations
    Many artworks involve the collection of everyday found objects, which are then separated from their accustomed role as utilitarian objects through the application of artistic/aesthetic processes. The artworks featured in this themed tour open up a whole area between agitation-oriented found-footage films (Guan Xiao), poetic concept photography (Natalie Czech), memory space installations (Lee Kit) and staged documentary photography (Zheng Guogu).

    The tour will be held in German language.
  • Saturday October 17th 2015
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    Guided Tour - The textual/pictorial: seeing reading, or reading seeing
    How does text in a picture influence our art reception process? A number of the artists featured in this exhibition are interested in typographical elements, self developed image vocabularies or calligraphies. The Chinese alphabet is founded on a multiplicity of significances, with the word-characters having different meanings depending on their context. How do international artists address the reassignment and shifting of in-use characters, with the resulting insecurity regarding ‘fixed meaning attributions’? This tour is concerned with the question of how the artworks in this exhibition play with mutual incomprehension, how they poetically interrelate the symbols’ multiple meanings and, finally, how the structure of the signs used is exploited both formally and artistically.

    The tour will be Held in German language.

Exhibitions

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