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Traveling North – A long way North Part One

An invitation to specifically create installation artworks at the DaPu International Art Centre saw me travel into Heilongjiang Province 150 plus kilometers North East of the capitol Harbin, to Daqing. Artists in this recently established city had heard of installation art, however, they had not experienced interacting with this discipline of art making. The attached text was written in response to a series of works titled Lines and Light.

In the early 20th century when Marcel Duchamp, the father of contemporary conceptual art, placed a urinal within a gallery space and called it by another name, the use of functional items in art making came into existence.

His thinking and perspective of our world, society, culture and every day life opened opportunities for artists to think beyond materials specific to art making.

Robert Rauschenberg expanded on Duchamp’s ideas in mid 20th Century, by using objects he found when walking the streets of New York.  He used discarded residue of the everyday in his artwork production, hence he formed the basis for recycling in art making.

Conceptual art, ideas of thinking, looking, collecting and rearranging includes the incorporation of anything and everything the artist decides to use.

When arriving at Dapu International Art Centre I found a series of timber crates.  They are the residual of packaging used to send delicate ceramics across China.

In my eyes these crates reflect the interior architecture of the Dapu Art Centre.  They contrast in material to the metal balustrade, yet the organized geometric structures mimic lines of design in the open space inside the building.  The crates, in comparison to the smooth, tactile, evenly painted balustrade and skylight, are not at all tactile.  They are rough saw cut and require caution to touch.

The crates when placed within the open space on the first floor of the Art Centre come to life as the sun moves slowly from East to West in the late morning.

At that time there becomes a lively interaction between elements natural, constructed and found.  Shadows, light and reflections interplay for approximately 30-45 minutes.  Like a flower that opens to light and closes at dusk so too Lines and Light opens and closes.

Using the same crates, varied in form, A Personal Perspective was installed for individuals to create their own dialogue with the artwork.  How they move through and around the installation is a personal decision.  Designed on Yin/Yang (bagua) concepts, individuals can move through the spaces viewing changing tones, lines, light and reflections.

The artwork ‘He cha 喝茶’ was created during this residency. Read more about it in the blog: Tales of Tea.

Written while travelling on the T5004 train from Daqing to Haerbin.

2011 August 1

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