• Spiritual Spoofing

    Date posted: January 21, 2009 Author: jolanta
    Gong Jian: What was the motivation for these works you’ve brought to the exhibition?
    Huang Yang:
    There are three elements: first, it is a continuation of the methods used in my previous work Bible, but adding sound and form. Second, it is a small appreciation of things in everyday life, specifically the whistle that sounds when a kettle boils. Every time I hear it I’m startled! The light is off in the kitchen, it seems like a train is rushing through the darkness, or like some sort of military air raid. The third element touches upon Li Zhi’s work; Li Zhi is an unparalleled master of thought, an ideologue who was debilitated solely on the base of his academics. But that’s not to say that I’m a student of his theories. It was more of the way he devoted his life to his works that really impressed me. It shows that he was firm and resolute.
    Image

    Artist Huang Yang, interviewed by Gong Jian

    Image
    Huang Yang, Book Burning! Book Burning Continued!, 2008. Paper, 451.2 x 721.5 cm. Courtesy of Pifo New Art Studios.

    Gong Jian: What was the motivation for these works you’ve brought to the exhibition?


    Huang Yang:
    There are three elements: first, it is a continuation of the methods used in my previous work Bible, but adding sound and form. Second, it is a small appreciation of things in everyday life, specifically the whistle that sounds when a kettle boils. Every time I hear it I’m startled! The light is off in the kitchen, it seems like a train is rushing through the darkness, or like some sort of military air raid. The third element touches upon Li Zhi’s work; Li Zhi is an unparalleled master of thought, an ideologue who was debilitated solely on the base of his academics. But that’s not to say that I’m a student of his theories. It was more of the way he devoted his life to his works that really impressed me. It shows that he was firm and resolute.

    GJ: Your work includes something like an air raid siren or whistle integrated with test papers. It is very easy for viewers to make the association and reflect on China’s exam-oriented educational system.


    HY:
    The exam-oriented education is the new “scar” of this generation. Even though it is not as obvious as the “scars” our previous generations endured, it is a deeper scar and the consequences are more serious. Young artists haven’t yet incorporated this scar in the scope of their personal reflections. In their opinion, making art is only a means to achieve success.

    GJ: What kind of misunderstandings are you most afraid that viewers would have?


    HY:
    First, not to say that my work rejects the possibilities of communicating with the audience, not at all. I hope that the value of my work deepens, beyond the exhibition space, through repeated relaying. Two, I’m not stressing any nostalgic feeling. It’s already a “scar;” I don’t want to beautify it.

    GJ: This time around your father is playing Li Zhi’s character. Last time you used your mother’s voice as a voice-over. Why do you include them in your creations?


    HY:
    Recently an indescribable feeling toward my parents has been welling up, something like “cherishing the memory of someone who is approaching death.” Just a few days ago I dreamt that my mother passed away. It felt so real, and I felt so much regret in the dream. In my opinion, the best way to hold a memorial service for someone is to include this person in my works. Why did I choose my father to play Li Zhi? Where Li Zhi lived is very close to our home in Jieyang. Their dialect is very similar, and my father’s age is now about the same as Li Zhi in his later years. In terms of their appearance, my father’s hair has all fallen out; he looks a little like a monk.

    GJ: Why do all of your works use many different factors and means?


    HY:
    I think that in the future my ideal state would be not to include so many elements. A single work should embody a single concept. But as a young artist, I think I should experiment with different materials. If I had gone directly to paint on an easel and achieved a certain degree of success, I would never feel that I had experienced enough. It would have been too easy, and that would be no fun.

    GJ: Do your religious beliefs have an effect on you works?


    HY:
    I think that they do. Many people treat religion as something silly, which really annoys me. And there’s a lot of spoofing in art. Perhaps you think that I’m goofing around, too. But I am taking this very seriously and trying to make works that mean something.

    GJ: Do you think people who wear pandas on their heads are playing pranks, spoofing?


    HY:
    “Spoof” implies that an artist’s head isn’t at the right place, so what exactly is the distinction? Ernst was playing pranks on Manet, but who doesn’t want exploit their own advantage? I think there should be a good distance between art and reality, then it would be fun. If people think one way and act another, then what’s good about that? Now Sichuan Province wants to pass a “Panda Law,” and certain artists are all upset about it. But there’s absolutely no need for that. There are other things to focus on other than pandas, aren’t there? If there’s nothing challenging about your art, then there is no depth. If your art is mixed with reality, then there’s nothing really interesting about it. You should be personally very clear about what you are thinking.

    GJ: What other works interested you in this exhibition?


    HY:
    Li Hong-Jun’s art has given me some inspiration. His works are considered “standard” academic art. I learn a lot by observing him. Li Hong-Jun and Liu Wen-Tao are a little similar. They are both very focused on their work, and their results are very pure. My ideas aren’t very well conceived, and in artistic experiments some are always hit or miss. But this is the only way an artist can move forward. I think that among my works there will always be failures, but works like Li Hong-Jun’s will always succeed. When I’m teaching, I often use him as an example. In many different aspects and from every angle, Li’s works achieve rather extraordinary results. From the perspective of how to successfully combine diverse factors, he is my role model. 

    Comments are closed.