Jan 30 - Feb 28, 2010

Press Release

Experimentalism: A Solo Exhibition of Weng Fen

Experimentalism: A Solo Exhibition of Weng Fen, initiated by the famous curator Gu Zhenqing, will be held at White Box Museum of Art, 798 Beijing, 30th January, 2010. The audience will then be able to experience the artistic reflections brought by the artist.

Form early on, Weng Fen has observed closely the social problems brought forth by rapid economic development and social transformation during the past three decades inChina. Rapid economic growth momentum and abundant opportunities at present have ignited the whole nation’s desire to worship and pursue wealth. Noisy busy construction sites, rings of dust swirling around at demolition sites, new Commercial Building Complex of various design, emerging cases of the so-called “nail households” have formed a picture on exhibition in every city of modernChina. The rapid process of urbanization is changing the details and beauty of daily life. Under the glorious, glistening skin of the city, crisis lurching below is quietly infiltrated into every inch of the city’s bone.

After ten years creation, the artist depicted in his series work of photography – Sitting on the Wall· Haikou (Plan 2001-2010), people’s psychological changes and gaps wrought byChina's rapid economic growth in the context of globalization. The images in the work enable the audience to the experience of psychological projection so that they cannot stay aloft, and unconsciously follow the line of sight of the young girl to watch the Big Mac modern city. As the artist said, “the drastic changes in the process of urbanization are modifying our living environment and our way of life, which affects the history, as well as the present and the future of human being.”


Since 2008, the “Eggshell Piling Plan” series uses fragile eggshells piled up into a sand table to direct the viewer’s attention to the inter-relationship among global, national and individuals presently. In the installation, all building props are shaped based on Weng Fen’s memory of different cities, with sampling and remodeling of the reality. Eggshells, fragile and susceptible to injury, stand as a simile and metaphor for multi-meanings. Just as the fable “as risky as piling up eggs” warns us, today’s world is no doubt a consumer society seeking pleasure and seeking meeting desires. Another sand table installation Ideology demonstrates the shocking result caused by the collision of two important global currencies. This fictional currency earthquake was conceived and materialized way before the 2008 global financial crisis started. In October 2008, the work, shown on the International Art Biennial,Poznan, Poland, triggered a strong response from the European audience. And on this crisis Weng Fen in fact played a proactive role of prophet. “Eggshell Piling Plan” is highlighted the artist’s individual experience and understanding of political, financial and socio-cultural issues in this Gaming time betweenChinaandAmerica. Weng Fen zoomed in to disclose the contradictions of urban development, once again undiscovered then city's deeper conflicts. The work reveals, in particular, modernChina’s collective unconsciousness of its weakness and meaninglessness and questioned our values and definition of life.

Weng Fen once said, "The World can always inflict great harm upon us human, and our criticism of the World may be
weak, but is definitely a must.” The quotation probably represents the artist's position and attitude.

Experimentalism: A Solo Exhibition of Weng Fen
nitiator: Gu Zhenqing Exhibition Director: Sun Yongzeng
Opening Reception: 15:00, Saturday, 30thJan., 2010
Exhibition Period: 30th Jan. – 28thFeb., 2010

Curator Article

Freedom and Independence
By Gu Zhenqing

Freedom tends to be understood as refusal and noncooperation in the current global context of inequality; sometimes it even means rebellion, fight or subversion. No matter how hard Chinais trying to catch up with Europe andAmericain front of its central position of speech power formulated in hundreds of years, it always fails to be at least like it. Standards, rules and values of modernity are all created and controlled by them and countries as China or India are just followers.China is passive; it is being formulated, positioned, standardized, priced, and even forced to say “no”. The China-Can-Say-No angle and attitude is also production of modernity. Saying “no” after nationwide experience-learning and borrowing from the West for more than a hundred years, more or less, is mixed with a kind of Oedipus complex.    

To whom and to what shallChina say “no”?

To European continent? Then how on earth solid are they today?

To US? Qualified as your “mentor” or “big brother”? But who released the smoke of G2? Obama surely is good at weighing the situation by always emphasizing on conversations, negotiations and reconciliations. Cold war is over for many years and it is the world trend now for each country to develop its own prosperity while respecting differences. Obama’s master card today is soft strength or smart strength. The tool to play with is culture and the product to export is value.

Or should we say “no” to the universal value of human being?

Modern society with globalization is the common context of all countries, nations and individuals, allowing no one to avoid or be aloof from the world.

It is the only solid principle for China to go with a different way to develop. There’s no need to seek for freedom, rebellion or breakthrough in western speech and value system, or to be too serious and earnest on its progress or regress. In the latest 30 years of market economy,Chinahas already accomplished some achievements based on its own situation. As a matter of fact, the real significance ofChina’s differentiated development is to avoid the structural and content repetition of social culture and to construct, enrich and refresh human’s universal values.

China’s abundant cultural tradition had guaranteed in history its graceful role of a sample of civilization. It has been tolerant enough to absorb alien culture and to self-upgrade. Compared to Western countries, the core competitiveness lies in the difference of China. The universal values as freedom, equality, democracy and justice mostly
originated from the West are a historical outcome of development of modernity, not the only result of that of human being. Globalization in surface is a process of integration of human civilization. In actual it’s not at all the only-one-party-is-willing kind of American melting pot. In multi-polar matrix of international society, with the emergence of developing countries’ after-advantage, globalization will be more and more open to be able to carry multi-cultural co-existence and
development, which is not only the global reality, but also a direction and future for sustainable development of the whole human family.

Only to give up the spiritual tanglement on epistemology and ontology to freedom and go directly to the importance of independent development and innovation, can China hold its own core competitiveness. To be independent means to order and buy the bill itself without caring the others. We should realize that today’s rapid progress is not only standing-up of a great nation, but the restoration of civilization.China does not need to talk about challenge all the time and face some imaginary enemies saying “no”.China has its back and foundation when confronted with today’s conflicts and game
playing between civilizations and nations. Independent and peaceful development will giveChina a boulevard of differentiated progress. Free from fighting philosophy and competition mindset,China should be able to find another modernity and social wealth to satisfy people’s material need.China can talk and act on its own.

International political and cultural struggles for right have never ceased. From Kyoto Protocol to Copenhagen Climate Summit, European and American countries have been asserting by focusing on the ultimate destiny of human being and the globe. Environmental deterioration, greenhouse effect and resource extinction all became there green revolutionary flagships to prove the consistent correctness of their value insistence and strengthen the central position of their
speech power. Hundreds of years ago, they took all the advantage of modernity and hard force of ships and guns to fire and rob productivity-lagged countries without discussion.China has been of so much tradition and philosophy of “harmony between man and nature”, which carries the most advanced ladder of 21st century’s culture. However, no matter how coincident its values are to today’s green assertions as environmental protection and low-carbon, they have been all regarded as garbage heritage by the-weak-falling-victim-to-the-strong logic of the imperialist powers. Hundreds of years later, little brothers of developing countries came all the way to G8 summit. Before they took a breath to calm down from the trip exhaustion and be ready for the coming equal dialogue and real exchange with their rich big brothers and elite counterparts, their G8 brothers had already stepped on the “low-carbon” flaming chariot and flied onto clouds of master’s pulpit to start educate. They played the leading card of carbon tax, easily dressed the borrowed “harmony between man and nature” value with a science-highest religious suit to erect it as the standard, flag and tiger skin for leading the world. They coronate themselves Goddess of Justice, and rule the world claiming the mistakes of developing countries. Positioning and being positioned, formulating and being formulated, and limiting and being limited, actually, are the key to the disagreement of developed and developing countries on low-carbon economic growth. In all the climate problems produced by western countries, the universal values of carbon emission reduction and energy consumption reduction have all been utilized as tools for right. European and American countries unlimitedly lift the advance of green culture backed up by its soft cultural strength, attempting to transfer and impose the original sin of environmental destruction to the developing countries. They call the world flat, distribute all the responsibilities to the still poor people, and then contain and exploit them. The concept that the world is ruled by the antagonistic forces is outdated. It is a time of global cooperation. The mainstream Chinese values actually are mostly overlapped with that asserted by Europe andAmerica. However, we all know that there still exists difference between long-term and short-term value systems. In the currant development stage ofChina, which meets modern and contemporary cultures and issues at the same time, it is natural that problems and conflicts call for action frequently. Sometimes short-term values cure instant problems. And this should not be too surprising to Western media. 2008 financial crisis has found China keep calm in front of the emergency, and 10 years of China-will-collapse theory has not influencedChina at all. Why not? Being independent now,Chinais already more thanconfident to do so.

Harmony and opposition exist among independent people and countries. Confucius says

A gentleman gets along
with others, but does not necessarily agree with them”. Chinese contemporary culture has huge potential for differentiated development. “
Harmony between man and nature” concept is the living philosophy and world value for Chinese people, and the essence of Chinese cultural tradition. Not difficult to see that concepts as green, environmental
protection, low-carbon, emery consumption reduction are one category of spiritual contributions that Chinese cultural certification system has dedicated to the world.China is deeply founded and more than qualified to have the right of speaking for and explain green culture. The key is whether Chinese contemporary culture can explore constructively and recreate its cultural essence innovatively to the universal values. 

China must learn to strengthen the knowledge and of its own culture and the re-creation of it. Parallel to the respectful Western tradition of self-examination and self-criticism, Chinese contemporary culture also has the ability of self-innovation. “Chinese vision” always breaks the window curtain of the present reality and shoot to the future tense.

It can be China’s call in many fields.Independence means enhancing inner drive and reducing its dependence on external power. It’s the beginning of self-support and carefree living. Leaning to the structure of globalization and modernity,China can also export culture and value to obtain speech power in many places.China can also show its international influence, and has to be used to hear others saying “no”.

China can “Not say no”, because the context of ‘say no” has gone. From freedom to independence,Chinahas gone
over all the stages of learning on the modernity of Europe andAmerica. At the stand of contemporary culture,China
has huge value advantage and creativity. Next thing forChinais to work out new criteria and game rules and promote them. It can bill others now. 30 years inChinahas produced a most local-adaptable contemporary culture and madeChinabe able to self-approve.

However, China should be reminded to often say “yes” to itself. To say “no” cannot turn out to be not any kind of cultural confidence; and to say “yes” is an easier status and makes more sense.


    Weng Fen

Installation View


  • bird's eye view-new BeiJing 1
  • bird's eye view-new BeiJing 8
  • bird's eye view-shanghai 1
  • bird's eye-shanghai2
  • on the wall-haikou 2001
  • on the wall-haikou 2002
  • on the wall-haikou 2003
  • on the wall-haikou 2004
  • sitting on the wall-haikou 2006
  • sitting on the wall-haikou 2008
  • sitting on the wall-haikou 2009
  • sitting on the wall-haikou (2005)

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