Jiang Zhi: Attitude
Following its debut in Osage Shanghai in September this year, Osage Gallery is pleased to present Jiang Zhi: Attitude, at our Kwun Tong space in December 2009. The exhibition will then travel to Beijing in April 2010.
Taking the concept of ¡¥attitude¡¦ as a point of departure, Jiang Zhi explores how ¡¥attitude¡¦ is not simply a conscious behaviour, nor merely an expression of a point of view, but a form of social rhetoric. Every form of ¡¥attitude¡¦ is a node in the complex web of meaning-making. In this respect, ¡¥attitude¡¦ is like a form of writing¡Xthrough speech, gestures, actions, expressions, masquerades, and performances¡Xwhere in its omnipresence, the protagonist and his subject is created, and the relationship between the self and other, or identity, is constructed. Thus, ¡¥attitude¡¦ as rhetoric is inextricably linked to words, a ring in the chain of meanings, and forms a part of language usage. As a result, ¡¥attitude¡¦ is no longer understood as a conscious decision of an individual, but as a performance of rhetoric.
The exhibition series is an investigation into, and a rewriting of, the phenomenon behind rhetorical expressions. It consists of a long discussion that accompanies a series of new works by Jiang. The discussion examines different theoretical perspectives about ¡¥attitude¡¦, and in so doing, creates a reservoir of meanings. This is juxtaposed against Jiang¡¦s re-interpretation of the concept of the rhetoric. Jiang extracts fragments of the social rhetorical as found in real life situations and reconstructs them, and in the process, breaks the chain of meanings. Stripped of its language-signifier, ¡¥attitude¡¦ reveals its own significance, bringing forth the criticality that lies at the heart of the deconstruction.
Attitude in Hong Kong is an expansion of the presentation in Shanghai. Several new works have been included in the exhibition in Hong Kong, extending the issues examined and allowing for new layers of meanings to emerge. Curtain Call, for example, follows from the examination of performativity in rhetorical expressions in 0.7% Salt and Maiden! All Too Maiden! (both shown in Shanghai) but which extends the issue by adding theatricality to expose the underlying performativity in the most natural of acts. In this work, a performer takes the final curtain call and prolongs the process, unwilling to leave the stage. The performer¡¦s reluctance to part with the power she holds over an audience and her obdurateness in the face of the audiences¡¦ mocking provoke mixed feelings of first, an amusement, then annoyance and finally, sympathy. The moment of curtain call, where a performer presumably resumes his or her ¡¥original¡¦ self to receive appreciation becomes a fallacy¡Xthere is no ¡¥original, natural¡¦ self. The unapologetic stance is juxtaposed in the sound installation, Untitled, notably Jiang¡¦s first such work, where a one hears a constant stream of apologies. Despite the difference in intonations and presentation, the constant apologies gradually lose their significance and are reduced to mere sounds. There is a contradiction in the simple word ¡¥sorry¡¦: when offered too readily, it risks being labelled insincere yet when late in coming, it invites reproach. Furthermore, through the addition of new works, two distinct threads have emerged, namely that of the ¡¥body¡¦ and ¡¥politics¡¦. As with the title ¡¥attitude¡¦, the notion of ¡¥body¡¦ and ¡¥politics¡¦ explored in the works, rather than being a theme, is a point of departure. In this respect, Jiang¡¦s works are attempts at investigating the relationship between body and politics, while at the same time embodies notions of body politics and the politicised body. Such is found in works such as M+1, W-1 and the two paintings In Siberia and In Hawaii. The former is reminiscence of early body politics while the latter explores contemporary notion of the body in politics.
Jiang Zhi, born 1971 in Hunan, China, works in a range of mediums, such as photography, video, and installation. From an early stage of his artistic career, Jiang has been writing novels while taking photograph, and is also deeply interested in poetry. His works are highly captivating and often carry complicated levels of intertextuality. Since graduating from the China Academy of Fine Art in 1995, Jiang works have been included in many exhibitions, such as Territoria #4: The Great Leap, Prato, Italy (2009), The Home Court: An Exhibition of Contemporary Art, White Box Museum of Art, Beijing, China (2009), Building Code Violations, Long March Space, Beijing, China (2008), La rivoluzione siamo noi, Isola Art Centre, Milan, Italy (2006), China Power Station Part 1, Serpentine Gallery, London, UK (2006), 2nd Guangzhou Triennial of Art, Guangdong Art Museum, Guangzhou, China (2005), Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China, ICP and Asia Society, New York, USA (2004), Zone of Urgency, 50th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2003), and the 4th Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju, South Korea (2002).
Following the presentation at Shanghai and Hong Kong, the exhibition will travel to Beijing, where it will again witness the expansion of the exhibition, one that stems from the continual discussions. It is hoped that the series will present a continual investigation, rather than an attempt at a conclusion.
Press preview for the exhibition will be held on Thursday, 3 December 2009 from 5:00pm to 6:00pm. The artist, Jiang Zhi will be present at the event. The press preview will be followed by an opening reception at 6:00pm.