Life is your regular meal, art is what you snack on.
The sister publication of China’s biggest art magazine Art World, SNACKS features a gleefully diverse selection of artists and its current exhibition at the Power Station of Art in Shanghai is a great showcase of its experimental spirit.
Olivier de Sagazan, Transfiguration
I was immediately captured by de Sagazan’s words, placed next to his work:
"I am flabbergasted in seeing to what degree people think it's normal, or even trite, to be alive."
In his performance at the Power Station (captured on video), de Sagazan plays the role of a painter-sculptor who tries, hopelessly, to give life to his work. Frustrated and desperate, he finally ends up plastering himself with clay to create his living breathing masterpiece.
It is a disturbing and at times monstrous vision: his face covered with clay, he slashes across it to create crude eyes and mouth. At another point, he piles clay up around his pelvis, creating a mound that suggests a growing erection, then swiftly he breaks it down again and reshapes the clay to form a baby-like shape that arduously emerges from his (her?) nether regions. It made me think of a lot of questions that the TV show Humans (which I just finished watching and highly recommend) raised. What makes us human and alive? If a machine (or a human creation) have consciousness, is there anything that still distinguishes it from being actually human?
Hiroshi Watanabe, Noh masks of Naito clan
Japanese Noh masks are traditionally photographed straight on to highlight the technical skill with which they have been created. Watanabe subverts this traditional two-dimensional aesthetic by photographing Noh masks from different angles, treating them like human portraits, and presenting the masks in a refreshingly touching way. It’s a simple change in perspective and approach but the results are remarkable in their subtlety and humanity.
Dick Ng, Sleep
Scattered across the exhibition, Dick Ng’s works are delightfully humorous and relatable. He is a comics artist from Shenzhen, whose original manga takes inspiration from everyday situations and absurdities and shines a light on them.
Lolo & Sosaku, Motors II
An artistic duo originating from Argentina and Japan, Lolo and Sosaku combine the visual and the audio in their works, creating fantastical machines that create unusual sounds, amplified with contact microphones, and form unusual shapes and motion at the same time.
Moran Myerscough and Luke Morgan, Oh la la! Celebrating Excess
Myerscough and Morgan created a playful installation that pokes fun and slyly questions how repeating a word suddenly imbues it with a poetic energy, no matter how simple or even meaningless its origins. I work in advertising - the world of catchy phrases and slogans - so that really struck a chord with me.
Jan Bucquoy, Oil on Canvas
This Belgian artist regularly questions what art is and what one should expect at an exhibition, and in this case he heavily referenced Belgian artists as well as Belgian clichés. Suggesting Broodthaers and Magritte, he covered one wall with paintings with the word ‘painting’ painted on in Chinese, but each signed with his name and therefore claimed to be ‘Belgian’. Even more ridiculously, he installed an actual friture - a Belgian fries kiosk - painted with the Belgian flag, right in the museum, filling the entire space with an annoying appetising smell and literally serving up snacks to the show’s visitors. Touché.
Snacks, curated by Gong Yan
Power Station of Art
Until October 16