Confucius City

When 20 Apr 2011 - 20 May 2011
Where Aceartinc
2nd floor, 290 McDermot Ave
Enquiry 204.944.9763

Confucius City Flyer, Courtesy of the artist and Aceartinc Gallery, Canada

April 20 – May 20, 2011

Launch + Artist talk: 7pm, Wednesday, April 20

Press Release:

Confucius City is an on-going project taking as its subject the activities, events, and projects stemming from an imagined civic organization: The Municipal Cultural Export Department of Confucius City. “The Winnipeg Project” exhibition presupposes a cultural exchange program between the City of Winnipeg and the fictional Confucius City. On the premise of this scenario, Confucius City’s Municipal Cultural Export Department has brought an exhibition, “From the Collections of the People’s Museum of Contemporary art of Confucius City”, to aceartinc. gallery space.

Creating an entirely fictional cultural event that makes use of the vocabulary (visual and texts) of a curatorial/cultural exchange program––including the artworks chosen to be presented by that program––allows me to embed my critical perspective within the artwork and the concept. Every detail is carefully invented, including the persona/portraits of Confucius Officials, the Message from the Director of the Museum, captions, texts, the names of artists and art movements, the historical background to the artworks, and documentation depicting social life in the city.

Considered through their visual qualities alone, most of the elements in Confucius City depict a new social environment: a comedy unfolding in an anarchistic land with a surreal class structure. The body politic is portrayed by nude figures juxtaposed with stereotypically “official” faces against backgrounds variously composed of contemporary Chinese urban scenes, Buddhist and Hindu religious iconography, and rural landscapes. In several instances, the bodies presented are wildly at odds with their new setting and are not integrated into a single pictorial plane. By extending the visual narrative into absurd social and quasi-religious context, I seek to highlight the instability of these government ventures, their lack of naturalism, and their cultural unsustainability.

This visual message is complicated by and sometimes contrasts to the texts (for example, The Introduction to the Collection), which are purposefully written with a strong, communist-related cultural perspective & style. The project does not provide an artistic analogy to the revised status of Confucianism within contemporary China. Rather, it explores the continuing problems inherent in the appropriation and manipulation of historical records, traditions, and philosophical discourses in the service of a state government (which could be anywhere) in shaping of national identity. Here, curatorial practice, exchanges between museums, and cultural programming are understood as powerful visual languages. By exercising my “dictatorship” to the full, I intend to present three layers through which a social entity might be understood: the civic life of a nation, the nation’s art, and the national art distributing agency in its relationships with other official cultural powers.

- Jing Yuan Huang, Artist (Winnipeg Project 2011)

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