Artists Roles/Artists Rules II

Artists Roles/Artists Rules II – China/Sweden Art Exchange Project (Station Kunming)

Initiators: Madeleine Aleman, Luo Fei
Curator: Luo Fei
Executive Curator: Wang Bei
Chinese Artists: Lei Yan, Luo Fei, Zi Bai, Xue Tao
Swedish Artists: Rikard Fåhraeus, Madeleine Aleman, Jannike Brantås, Ylva Landoff Lindberg

Opening: 20:00, Sep 9th, 2017
Performances on the opening by: Jannike Brantås and Madeleine Aleman
Exhibition Duration: 11:00-21:00, Sep 9th to Oct 8th, 2017, Sundays Closed

Host by: TCG Nordica
In cooperate with Studio 44 (Stockholm), City College of Kunming University of Science and Technology

Artist Talk:
Artists: Luo Fei, Madeleine Aleman, Rikard Fåhraeus, Jannike Brantås
Time: 7pm, Sep 7th, 2017
Location: Lecture Hall, City College of Kunming University of Science and Technology

About Artists Roles/Artists Rules
Artists Roles / Artists Rules is an exhibition on the artist’s mission, responsibility, duty and position in society- sometimes enforced, sometimes self-imposed. Each artist has worked individually from a personal standpoint on an individual basis as well as with the vision of how things ideally could be.
The origins of the project is the desire to explore and discuss the differences as well as the similarities in working conditions for artists in China and Sweden.
We have a desire to, through this exchange, as artists achieve greater awareness of each others lives and our respective communities.
The only common language for the participants in this project have been the imagery. The language barrier made written communication sparse and poor. Initially, we have communicated through short videos on a chat forum, a channel open and possible in a Chinese – Swedish communication. It has given us the opportunity to learn from each others. These videos have then been merged into a joint work on show in the gallery.
The exhibition features the collaborative video as well as individual video works, installations, collages, photographic works, drawings and documentation of performances.
The project part one has been hold at Studio 44 in Stockholm last Aug and Sep, now ready to present the project part two at TCG Nordica, the 9th of Sep, 8pm, welcome!

opening performance “am I a refugee?” by Luo Fei, Studio 44, Stockholm, 2016 (photo by Anna-Britta Sandberg)


瑞典艺术家:瑞卡德·法利伍(Rikard Fåhraeus)、玛德琳·阿雷曼(Madeleine Aleman)、杰妮卡·布朗塔斯(Jannike Brantås)、于尔娃·林德伯格(Ylva Landoff Lindberg)


合作机构:Studio 44(瑞典斯德哥尔摩)、昆明理工大学城市学院


关于 艺术家的角色与规则





Made in Spectacle Society: Zi Bai’s exhibition

Opening: 3pm, Sat, Sep 14, 2013
Exhibition Duration: Sep 14 to Oct 30, 2013
Curator: Xue Tao
Artistic Director: Luo Fei
Translator: Becky Davis
TCG Nordica Gallery
Add: TCG Nordica, Chuangku(Loft), Xibalu 101, Kunming
Tel: 0871-64114692








A Clinical Report on Contemporary Society


A Clinical Report on Contemporary Society

— On Zi Bai’s photo

By Luo Fei

In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. All that once was directly lived has become mere representation. 
-Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle

In modern society, there are no longer any isolated landscapes. Even in the most remote places, one comes across distressing scenes like the one that occurred just a few days ago in the Artic, where the melting of sea ice due to global warming caused a number of polar bears to starve to death, leaving behind a scattering of blanket-like bodies. All natural spaces in the modern era have been transformed into sites of interchange between the natural, cultural and social spheres. Given this situation, we can use French theorist and film director Guy Debord’s term of “spectacle” to describe all that we see.

In his 1967 work “Society of the Spectacle,” Debord uses the concept of “spectacle” to explain that both the public and private domains of daily life have experienced a sort of existential crisis due to the development of capitalism in Europe. He believes that in the “society of the spectacle,” relationships between people and commodities have replaced those between people. Because in societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles – a perversion of what ought to be the case. In a mediatized age, mere appearances become our most authentic reality – people come to live for them. The “society of the spectacle” makes people’s lives barren and devoid of authenticity; it gradually causes people’s critical thinking abilities to wither away.

This more sociological conception of “spectacle” (景观) has also affected the way artists have come to think and speak about landscapes (which in Chinese are now even referred to with the same term, 景观). The idea of “landscape” has come to include not just natural scenery, but also man-made wonders. Particularly since the 1960s, this understanding of “景观 (spectacle/landscape)” has expanded the range of techniques and subject matter used by landscape photographers by prompting artists to reconsider their views on the way man relates to nature, to the urban environment, and to his fellow man.

Zi Bai’s photography presents us with just such a virtual yet nonetheless real landscape, echoing the society consisting of an immense accumulation of spectacles described by Debord.

Since 2007, Zi Bai has taken a great number of photos of the refuse in garbage collecting stations, first in his hometown of Xishuangbanna and later in Kunming, Shanghai and other cities. He worked for many years in an advertising agency, and his outstanding Photoshop design and editing skills provide an excellent technical background for his creative works. In these hundreds of photographs of collected materials, impressive, nearly suffocating scenes emerge from the densely piled accumulations of our spectacular society.

In his “City Series 01,” under a dim sweep of thick clouds, billions of scarlet cans are heaped upon Tiananmen Square like the passionate masses that swarmed there during the Cultural Revolution era, waiting for their leader to appear. Here, what people cheer and worship is called “consumption,” and what they shout is: “Long live consumerism! Long live the Great Unity of consumers!” Zi Bai has created a scene of heathen idolatry; a fetishistic movement is on the rise, and in it brews the ecstasy and tumult of consumption.
“City Series 2,” “City Series 3,” and “City Series 4” are, respectively, images of the river below Shanghai – the Pearl of the Orient – filled with plastic water bottles, of roaring waves of beer cans swarming the feet of the American Statue of Liberty, and of drink cans piled high as mountains around the islands of Southeast Asia. In the equally inspiring piece “Men are Higher than Mountains,” discarded drink bottles are stacked like Himalayan peaks. Zi Bai uses these iconic scenes and landmarks to make the garbage seem even more vast, imposing and able to shock viewers, as well as to imbue his landscape photography with a Neo-Romantic character.




In his “More? Less? (How Much?)” Series, Zi Bai uses a panning overhead shot to photograph densely packed bottle caps, drink bottles, cans or syringes, creating images that look like beautifully colored wallpaper. Among them two photographs are of bullets and grenades used during the Vietnam War when the Americans tried to block North Vietnamese and Chinese supply lines to South Vietnam by dropping massive quantities of explosives on the mysterious Ho Chi Minh Trail. Later on, these areas became sites for tourism, attracting large numbers of people who came to collect fallen ammunition. It’s said that every year there were people who died doing this. In 2008 and 2009, Zi Bai went to local recycling centers in those regions to photograph these discarded munitions.
Aesthetically speaking, Zi Bai tends to showcase his propensity for the shocking yet delicate. Admiring his works from a certain distance, they always arouse a feeling of delight. But behind this attractive exterior lies a brutal reality – billions of piles of garbage and the crushed carcasses of road kill (“Disappearing Landscape” series). These works are in fact composed out of human greed and vanity, and function as visual evidence of our inability to act as proper stewards of the earth.

According to recent survey data from the Department of Housing, more than a third of Chinese cities are now completely encircled by garbage, which has even begun to spread into the countryside. These “garbage-besieged cities” have also led to the rise of increasing numbers of cancer villages.

Zi Bai’s manner of critiquing our social condition is in some ways similar to the technique of clinical analysis. Society in his eyes is like a diseased behemoth that needs to consume and excrete in alarming quantities. In order to diagnose this behemoth’s condition, Zi Bai attentively wades through and examines its excrement, documenting, using photography as this monster’s lab test results: a clinical report on the condition of contemporary society. He helps us begin to notice that the bottles and plastic bags in our own hands and our concept of consumption are working together to further the spectacle of the garbage that surrounds our cities in ever-increasing piles.

Art, as visual documentation of an era, asks people to look beyond the world of appearances to the reality that exists below, and glimpse people’s greed. Art is a prophecy for this generation, calling on people to realize that if we don’t make any changes to our patterns of consumption or our manner of waste disposal, it will be the end of our world as we know it. Art is an expression of the human spirit: behind the billions of drink bottles there are billions of human beings with dry throats and dry souls. This is what I learned from Zi Bai’s clinical report on the state of contemporary society, of our horrifying society of the spectacle.

August 11, 2013
Translated by Becky Davis







在现代生产条件无所不在的社会里,生活本身展现为景观(spectacle)的庞大堆聚。直接存在的一切都转化为一个表象(representation)。——居伊·德波(Guy-Ernest Debord)


在1967年德波出版的《景观社会》(the Society of the Spectacle)中,他创造了“景观(Spectacle)”这个概念,来解释日常生活中的公私领域在欧洲资本主义发展过程中所导致的精神衰弱的问题。他认为“景观社会”所确立的人与商品关系,取代了人与人的关系。因为在现代生产条件无所不在的社会里,生活本身展现为景观的庞大堆聚,这是一种秩序颠倒后的表象。这个表象在媒体时代成为最真实的存在,人们为这个表象而活。“景观社会”导致人们的生活变得贫瘠,缺乏真实性,人的批判性思维逐渐萎缩。