New World Order. Contemporary Installation Art and Photography from China

April 2008

From 27 April to 23 November, the Groninger Museum will present the exhibition entitled New World Order. Contemporary Installation Art and Photography from China. In this exhibition, emphasis is placed upon photography and installations created since 2000. At this moment, China is undergoing a process of rapid change and contemporary Chinese art has assumed an exceptional position in the art world, where attention for this particular art has grown exponentially in a very short period.

The issue of how Chinese artists are responding to the new reality in China, full of contrasts and constant changes, was the reason to launch this New World Order exhibition. How does their work reflect the explosive growth of the cities, the expanding consumer society, and the new freedom of choice?

In which way do they make use of renowned Chinese craftsmanship and which roles, if any, do cultural traditions and the former Communist propaganda and symbolism currently play? How has Western culture influenced these Chinese artists?

The tradition of modern art in China is scarcely thirty years old and, as a consequence, Chinese artists seemed to be less burdened by the yoke of a long history of autonomous art. In some of the artists’ work, various styles, choices of material, and themes succeed one another at a very rapid rate.

Artists in China seem to be able to switch between various disciplines more easily than here. For example, the artist Li Songsong creates paintings and installations, and examples of both these disciplines are on display in the exhibition. The same applies to Liu Jianhua, an artist who was educated in traditional porcelain techniques and who uses this material to create installations referring to the current consumer society, while his installation entitled Yiwu Survey shows that he can opt for completely different materials with equal ease.

The enormous urbanization and the astonishing speed at which this is being realized appear to be a direct source of inspiration to many. Various artists are explicitly attempting to gain a grasp of these developments via their work. The photographer Shi Guorui, for example, records the present time with the camera obscura, which seems to reduce reality to its essence, whereas the photographer Miao Xiaochun contrastingly displays a densification of reality in his hilarious work entitled Surplus.

Besides the fact that the Museum has deliberately opted for installations, the exhibition is also oriented toward work that is characterized by a certain degree of conceptualism – something that is not self-evident in Chinese art, which is largely dominated by naturalistic or even somewhat caricatural painting.

The Groninger Museum has invited 27 artists to participate in the exhibition. The selection of the works has been done in close consultation with the artists, and some works have even been specially produced for this exhibition. Effort has also been made to display as much recent work as possible. Each artist has been assigned his or her own room wherever possible, so that visitors are allowed the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world the artist generates. With the selected artists, the Groninger Museum wishes to give an impression of the great diversity of precontemporary Chinese visual art, which is a reflection of individual artistry as well as of social dynamics, and of the new international position that China currently occupies in the world of art.

The exhibition presents work by: Bai Yiluo, Chi Peng, Jin Jiangbo, Jin Shan, Leung Mee-Ping, Li Songsong, Liu Ding, Liu Jianhua, Liu Wei, Miao Xiaochun, Muchen & Shao Yinong, Peng Yu & Sun Yuan, Qiu Xiaofei, Shen Shaomin, Shi Guorui, Shi Jinsong, Stanley Wong, Sui Jianguo, Wang Gongxin, Weng Fen, Xiao Yu, Xing Danwen, Yin Xiuzhen, Zhan Wang, Zhuang Hui.

To accompany this exhibition, the book New World Order. Hedendaagse Installatiekunst en Fotografie uit China (New World Order. Contemporary Installation Art and Photography) will be published in conjunction with NAi Publishers on 26 April. Authors: Carol Yinghua Lu, Sue-an van der Zijpp. Dutch edition, ISBN 978-90-5662-240-4. English edition, ISBN 978-90-5662-251-0 Format: 29 x 23 cm. 200 pp. €24.50.

Rabo Bank – Presenting Partner Go China! Assen-Groningen

This project was made possible by generous investment by the Samenwerkingsverband Noord-Nederland (North Netherlands Co-operative Association) and the European Union

Note for the editor
Publicity: Josee Selbach, +31 (0)50 3666555,, Carianne Nieman,
Compilation and co-ordination: Sue-an van der Zijpp
Compilation and layout: Mark Wilson