Arts & Events

Shiming discusses contemporary art

On Wednesday Nov. 9, acclaimed Chinese curator Dr. Gao Shiming delivered a lecture to Puget Sound students, teachers and friends regarding his observations and projects within the modern art community.

The lecture, entitled “From Farewell to Rehearsal: Critical Thinking from a Chinese Curator of Contemporary Art,” was co-sponsored by the Puget Sound Art Department and Asian Studies Program.

Shiming, hailing from the Chinese Academy of Art, launched the lecture with a short film of his own creation, which reflected on the current state of what he described as a “nightmarish” and “exhausting” contemporary art culture. The film introduced the notion of feeling lost due to a lack of an enemy or target which the art community could focus on; ultimately, the film claimed that “this is a moment of crisis for artists.”

Moving forward with a PowerPoint, Shiming explained that curating consists of not only organizing exhibitions, but also of dealing with the obsessions and anxieties of artists.

Shiming’s presentation was supplemented by both Asian Studies students, who read off of some of the slides in his PowerPoint, and by Asian Studies faculty members who eagerly provided trivia about art pieces portrayed in his slides.

Shiming discussed forms and programs taking place across the world for the project “Program In Motion,” which he and other artists are involved in worldwide. “We hope to uncover the paradoxical elements of the contemporary,” Shiming said. “We hope to investigate, to find what new imaginative works are possible.”

Shiming then moved on to the concept of rehearsal; “Theatre which is not repeated is rehearsal,” he explained. “A spontaneous performance should be called a rehearsal.” Shiming, in conjunction with partners within the art community, aims to utilize the concept of rehearsal and encourage artists to “use [their] own bodies and memories to measure history and politics, and to depict the upcoming history and politics.” Rehearsal, claims a colleague of Shiming’s, “can serve as a reflective and performative platform for different experiments and encounters.”

The concept of rehearsal, Shiming explained, can also serve to evade the “constraint,” or the “invisible hand,” provided by the trends of the art world.

The Rehearsal project has had five “acts” thus far, drawing hundreds of artists and over half a million visitors. The project is unfinished, though, Shiming emphasized; “the goal of Rehearsal is to gauge history and politics, to ask ‘Who am I? What am I living for?’ and to challenge knowledge and perception.”

The next stage of Rehearsal will take place in 2013, at Clark Art Institute.

“Rehearsal is unfinished,” were Shiming’s closing words. “We are undefined.”