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18.09.2012

 

Mu Chen & Shao Yinong present excellently spooky ‘Assembly Halls’ as well as the smashing ‘MI’ series

The photographic series by artist couple Mu Chen and Shao Yinong, which was developed between 2002 and 2004, depicts former meeting rooms that were used for propaganda campaigns during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).

The rooms, documented in their current state – always from the front and deserted – become contemporary witnesses to social change in China. They bring back individual and collective memories of a rather unpleasant era in recent Chinese history.

Until 1976 these ‘Assembly Halls’ were places significant to the Cultural Revolution movement; they were spaces of propaganda, indoctrination, denunciation, humiliation and crass ‘self-criticism’.

Some of the depicted rooms have been painstakingly reconstructed or still reference the past through relics such as political banners and slogans; other halls have long been converted into modern pubs, theatres, cafés, bars, classrooms or temples.

The series also shows derelict, empty or completely ‘ruined’ assembly halls, which bear almost no traces of the political gravitas they once carried.

The ‘Assembly Hall’ series was created in line with the ‘Long March Project’, initiated by Chinese artist and curator Lu Jie in 2002. Mu Chen and Shao Yinong decided to join this project alongside many national and international artists.

Since the turn of the millennium, painter Shao Yinong and photojournalist Mu Chen have been working together. ‘Assembly Halls’ is their most famous project, which was noted as the outstanding Chinese work at the Shanghai Biennale in 2004.

While husband and wife Mu Chen and Shao Yinong were still working on the ‘Assembly Halls’, they started the ‘Mi’ series. This series is comprised of installations on the outside of buildings, which also visualise the image culture of remembrance. During the Cultural Revolution, the windows of countless buildings were reinforced with x-shaped tape, to protect the people inside from flying shards of glass caused by the alleged impending capitalist bombings.

This propaganda scheme led to the words ‘Mi’ (rice) appearing on the windows marked with an X. In the light of dwindling food supplies at the time, this read as a (unintentionally) provocative political demonstration.

The ‘Mi’ series doesn’t simply highlight the history that is visible on the architectural fragments, but it restages the architectural impact through the traditional materials from the Cultural Revolution: for this installation, Mu Chen and Shao Yinong adorned the windows of historical buildings with white ribbon and captured the result in sober images.

The performance-based artistic process therefore presents itself as a reconstruction of politically and ideologically motivated events. These political events, which the artists experienced as a surreal and poetic distortion of reality when they were children, are artistically reprocessed and made accessible to today’s generation.


Bio:
Painter Shao Yinong, born in 1961 in Xining in the province of Qingha, studied at Qinghai Normal University. Mu Chen, born 1970 in Dandong in the province of Liaoning, read photojournalism at People’s University of China. The couple have been working together since 2000: Assembly Halls is their third joint project, following Family Register (2000) and Childhood Memento (2001). It is part of the Long March Project (2002) and has been presented at solo exhibitions at Michael Goedhuis Gallery in New York (2004) and 10 Chancery Lane Gallery in Hong Kong (2005). Current works include banknote tapestries that were exhibited at the 2011 Singapore biennial. Shao Yinong and Mu Chen live in Beijing.


Assembly Halls - 'MI'-Serie
Mu Chen & Shao Yinong
until 28.10.2012
Forum für Fotografie
Schönhauser Str. 8
50968 Cologne
Germany

Opening times
Mon – Fri 2pm – 6pm
Sat 12pm – 6pm
Sun 12pm – 4pm

Part of:
21. Internationale Photoszene Köln 2012
until 30 September

ASSEMBLY HALLS by Mu Chen & Shao Yinong

ASSEMBLY HALLS by Mu Chen & Shao Yinong

ASSEMBLY HALLS by Mu Chen & Shao Yinong

ASSEMBLY HALLS by Mu Chen & Shao Yinong

ASSEMBLY HALLS by Mu Chen & Shao Yinong

ASSEMBLY HALLS by Mu Chen & Shao Yinong

ASSEMBLY HALLS by Mu Chen & Shao Yinong

ASSEMBLY HALLS by Mu Chen & Shao Yinong

ASSEMBLY HALLS by Mu Chen & Shao Yinong

ASSEMBLY HALLS by Mu Chen & Shao Yinong

ASSEMBLY HALLS by Mu Chen & Shao Yinong

ASSEMBLY HALLS by Mu Chen & Shao Yinong

ASSEMBLY HALLS by Mu Chen & Shao Yinong

ASSEMBLY HALLS by Mu Chen & Shao Yinong

ASSEMBLY HALLS by Mu Chen & Shao Yinong

ASSEMBLY HALLS by Mu Chen & Shao Yinong

ASSEMBLY HALLS by Mu Chen & Shao Yinong

ASSEMBLY HALLS by Mu Chen & Shao Yinong

ASSEMBLY HALLS by Mu Chen & Shao Yinong

ASSEMBLY HALLS by Mu Chen & Shao Yinong

ASSEMBLY HALLS by Mu Chen & Shao Yinong

ASSEMBLY HALLS by Mu Chen & Shao Yinong