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Spinning the New Century


  Text by Zhao Yue

  The brainchild of renowned exhibition curatorZhang Qing, “Spin: The First Decadeof a New Century” was on display fromSeptember 1 to 28, 2012, on the secondfloor of Today Art Museum’s Building One. The Institutefor the Advancement of 21st Century Art joinedToday Art Museum in sponsoring the event which displayeda decade of work from six young artists: ChenKe, Jia Aili, Ouyang Chun, Qiu Xiaofei, Wang Guangleand Wei Jia.

  During the first decade of the 21st Century, contemporaryChinese art matured rapidly largely throughthe work of artists born in the 1970s entering theirpeak years of creativity. When planning this exhibition,Zhang Qing chose six artists whom he expectedwould illustrate the development of contemporaryChinese art over the decade through their personal artisticexperience and work.

  “Like the radical changes that took place in the 1970s in China, artists born in that period are also diverseand varied in many ways,” remarks Zhang Qing.“The six artists of this exhibition express their feelingsabout this world through their work. These artists areat a unique time of cultural convergence, spinning ontheir own axes at a point where the age of consumptionfiercely collides with ideology. Their works, nowdisplayed together, vividly reveal the relationship betweenChina’s artistic progress over the past 10 yearsand artists’ respective personal achievements.”

  The term “spin” is derived from physics. In quantummechanics, “spin” is used to describe the intrinsicattribute of all particles and the magnetic fields theyproduce. Contemporary young artists perform ontheir own stages, and at the same time, they break awayfrom the influence of ideology and devote attention tohumanity, which evokes particles spinning.

  Entering the second decade of the 21st Century,these young artists, mostly born in the 1970s, are alreadydeep within the art world. Their thoughts, feelingsand artistic languages are different from artistsborn in 1950s and 1960s, who are good at grand narrativesand fierce criticism of ideology. They are formingmore singular voices and establishing acute artisticself-awareness. They represent a unique segment oftheir generation — a more exaggerated and specificembodiment of their time. However, no academic workdocumenting close observation or precise descriptionof this group emerged. The “Spin” exhibition soughtto fill the gap.

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