White Rabbit Gallery -
Exhibitions

Commune

Commune

11 27.08.2014–01.02.2015

Commune

Exploring The Connections That Bind One Billion People Together

China has always been a group-oriented society, in which individuals were expected to “sacrifice the ‘little me’ for the sake of the ‘big me’,” as an old proverb says. In Confucian culture, people were encouraged to develop their inner selves, but the family came first. Each member had a role to perform, and filial duty took precedence over personal desires. The Communists were determined to smash the old culture, but they shared its suspicion of individual freedom, which they saw as a threat not just to social unity but to their hold on power.

Under Maoist rule, people’s identities were defined by the groups they belonged to, from family to commune to artists’ associations. Those who rebelled against the group, or were accused of siding with “enemy” groups such as landlords and imperialists, were ostracised or put to death.In the late 1970s, as communes were dismantled and political controls relaxed, attitudes to the individual also began to change. Contemporary artists and writers exalted once-deplored concepts like ziwo, the self, and ziyou, individual freedom, and explored them in their work. As economic liberalisation gathered pace, so did individualisation. The status quo of the 1950s and ’60s was turned upside-down: where people were once forced to cooperate, now they had to compete; where their future was decided by others, now it was in their own hands.

In COMMUNE, some of China’s best-known artists and brightest newcomers explore the tensions between individual and group, community and nation, collectivist past and chaotic present. Their works include tender affirmations of family love, meditations on loneliness and death, and evocations of private and public memory. They look at individuals alone, in marriage, at work, on society’s margins, and among the madding crowds. Will the liberation of a billion “little me”s diminish the “big me” that is China? The artists in COMMUNE suggest the opposite.

GF
Xia Xing 2010, 2010-2011 oil on canvas
35 x 50 cm (x 60)
Bai Yiluo Spring and Autumn 1, 2007 wood, metal, farm tools
400 x 350 x 350 cm
1F
Lin Zhi Afraid of Water, 2013 dried clay
240 x 90 x 90 cm
Wang Cheng The Great Wall Plan, 2011–2013 pigsty; communal oven
350 x 225 x 120 cm
115 x 100 x 65 cm
Wang Cheng Little Shrine, 2014 bricks, tiles, metal
95 x 95 x 86 cm
Li Xiaofei Assembly Line Series: A Foreign Boss, 2011 HD video
9 min 46 sec
Li Xiaofei Assembly Line Series: A Printing Plant Worker, 2011 HD video
6 min 58 sec
Li Xiaofei Assembly Line Series: A Women’s Federation Director, 2011 HD video
6 min 46 sec
Li Xiaofei Assembly Line Series: A Workshop Director, 2010 HD video
6 min 12 sec
He Yunchang Self and Self—A Beginning, 2013 oil on canvas
320 x 232 cm
Zhang Lidan The Return: The Resurrection of Old Lady Gao, 2008 C-prints
50 x 150 cm (x2)
Zhang Lidan The Return: Old Lady Gao Comes Home, 2012 3 videos, 14 photographs, found objects
various dimensions
Jin Shan Animals Attack Humans, 2013 video
2 min 55 sec
2F
Chen Mingqiang A Pictorial Study of Marriage Certificates in the New China, 2013 dissertation documents
16 volumes
Chung Shun-Wen Grandma’s Clothes, 1-7, 2008–2010 glue painting
46.3 x 40.3 cm
Gao Rong The Static Eternity, 2012 cloth, thread, sponge, metal
516 x 460 x 270 cm
Shen Liang State Banquet and Civilian Food, 2010 watercolour and acrylic on handkerchiefs
30 x 30 cm (x42)
Michael Lin Untitled Gathering, 2008 emulsion on wood stools
28 x 25 x 25 cm (x320)
Li Wei Human Being, 2008 fibreglass
108 x 40 x 26 cm
Huang Hua-Chen The Family Album: So See You Later, 2010 oil on canvas
various dimensions
3F
Hu Weiyi The Remnants of Images, 2013 old file cabinets, video, screens, motors
various dimensions
Jiang Jian The Orphan Files, 2009 giclee prints
110 x 100 cm (x24)