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Space created by Light and Wind
The Chinese artist Lei Yixin designed the newly opened Martin Luther King Memorial at the National Mall in Washington DC in the manner of Socialist Realism. The controversial question in the public was not so much the stylistic expression but more the fact that a Chinese artist got the commission to shape the sculpture for the Afro-American hero. However one is wondering about the style and expression of the monument – and what this means in the cultural context. That could also be discussed in a political context.
Quite different is a temporary installation by the Shanghai based architect Bu Bing just a few hundred meters away in front of the Kennedy Center. The outdoor exhibition “Landscape in Mind” as part of the exhibition “China: The Art of a Nation”, shows works of Xu Jiang, Ding Yi, Xiang Yang, Chen Wenling, Mu Chen and Bu Bing. Bu’s installation was first shown at the roof terrace at the National Art Museum in Beijing in April this year. Later it was shown in front of the Museum for Fine Arts in Taichung, Taiwan, and is now on show in front of the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.
The poetic installation uses the natural force of wind and light, to transform an enclosed space with its reflections and shadows. The size of the installation was adapted to each location. The panels are 3.6 meter high and made of polycarbonate, mounted on a metal frame.
The outside form follows a computer generated cloud-like profile. Each piece of the white polycarbonate panels is mounted on the framework and moves according to the wind slow or fast. The sunlight reflects in the plates and the revolving elements cast moving shadows onto the fixed second layer of translucent polycarbonate.
Bu Bing wants the visitor to feel like being in a cloud, meditating or just being taken away by the changing situation. The space is fixed with the installation, but the natural condition creates each time a different atmosphere.
The images from the three locations where the installation had been shown, clarified that the context also created an important part of the effect. The installation in front of the Kennedy Center almost looks lost in the open space. (http://vimeo.com/29608910) In front of the five-year-old building for the Museum of Fine Arts in Taichung, the space seems to fit into the environment.
In Beijing at the terrace of the National Art Museum is the contrast to the national style architecture of Dai Nianci from 1960 much stronger and produces the biggest "space" for interpretation. The flexible smooth outer skin changes the form in the wind and the sunlight. Together they create a poetic image with simple natural resources, which is open for individual interpretation.
In contrast to the massive statue of Lei Yixin for the Memorial of Martin Luther King, the installation of Bu Bing is temporary and will disappear after the show is closed in November 2011. But nevertheless, the two positions show clearly two aspects of cultural production in contemporary China.
One is heavy and massive, the other flexible and poetic. The question that comes in mind in such a context is, which of the two design concepts could offer a Chinese value in a global discourse about future aesthetic needs. The poetic aspect at least opens a space to think, whereas the solid statue reports from a bygone age where straight arguments were needed to reach clear aims.
One Design Inc.
23 meter by 3 meter, 3.6 meter tall with roof
approximately 8 meter by 8 meter, 3.6 meter tall without roof
In Washington DC
2 groups, approximately 10 meter by 4 meter each, 3.6 meter tall without roof
In Taichung by Richard Wang
In Beijing by Shen Zhonghai
In Washington DC by Ted Alcorn
Video in Washington
By Ted Alcorn