The Chinese edition of the Biennale China – Italy | Memory have been inaugurated on June 28, 2014 within the 798 Art District of Beijing, an area totally dedicated to contemporary art. The exhibition, curated by a scientific committee led by Sandro Orlandi and Mian Bu, sees two ancient civilizations be compared through the vision of Italian and Chinese contemporary artists and their works are to investigate the theme of memory.
As Orlandi writes, the concept of the exhibition is a meditation on two aspects of memory. The first is developed by a reflection on an old Chinese proverb: “The more faded ink is better than the best memory“. This proverb emphasizes how the most indelible memory may fall into error because of our human nature. Only writing can help to keep the memory as truthful as possible, highlighting the important role of words as a carrier to support memory. The second aspect pointed by Orlandi is explained by the curator with a quote from Oscar Wilde: “Memory is the diary that each of us carries with him“. In this case he emphasizes the importance of memory. It forms the man: it is his story, his experiences and his knowledge. The memory becomes a very important element for man, as well as for the artist. Thus, for Orlandi memory is the luggage of each artist, is all that he has and that is used to create an art work. In doing so the work becomes like a word: support element of memory.
The exhibition is developed in different spaces divided by characterizing themes: Memories towards the Past, Memories of the digital media and Memories toward the future. The works of the artists in the rooms, are placed in dialogue between them, highlighting the diversity of response of the authors to the same theme, mainly due to culture, origins and different backgrounds. Two environments, the Yang International Art Center and the 798 Being 3 Art Gallery, are dedicated to the exhibition Recall of 2012: Meditation of nature and to the solo of artist Danyang Chen.
Among the ninety-three Chinese and Italian artists participating in the Biennale China – Italy | Memory there are also Alessandro Cardinale and Cristina Gori.
Alessandro Cardinale, winner in 2012 of the 5th International Biennial of Beijing, presents the work of Nu Shu. The installation is a work on communication, especially on the understanding of messages. Nu Shu is in fact a secret language, created in ancient times by women of the region of Hunan in China. It was used to communicate with each other memories and experiences through embroidery on clothes. A sort of encrypted messages, seen by men as simple decorations, which testified and told the plight of women of the time.
The work, composed by a set of carved wooden slats that recall the fans where the messages were written, changes depending on the point of view of the observer. The slats are in fact assembled in such a way that only from one certain position you can see a woman’s face, but once changed that position, the image disappears and the “message” will be incomprehensible. As Cardinale explained “In Nu Shu I refer to this cryptic language starting from vertical bars of wood apparently incomprehensible, they want to recall the fans on which was written the Nu Shu, letting appear a feminine image that is perceived as an apparition but which can easily disappear”. The work then behaves like a real secret language: only by knowing the key, in this case, the position, the “message” will be revealed.Cristina Gori, Vault Over General, 2014
Cristina Gori, for the second time in Beijing after the Olympic Fine Arts exhibition in 2008, presents eight photographs taken from the Vault Over project. It is a series of self-portraits in which the artist embodies, in a feminine key, the main ranks of the Terracotta Army of Xi’an. Gori, as a contemporary Marco Polo, becomes the interpreter of a mental and metaphorical path that connects the city of Venice to Xi’an. It is a new journey along the Silk Road, one of the most important paths for trade and cultural exchange in the antiquity, connecting the two places. The artist, through a series of self-portraits, transforms herself into a hybridization between the Venetian and the Chinese identity. Her body and in particular her hair transform to create a match between the two cultures (Western and Eastern) and to identify in one of the symbols of China’s history: the terracotta army. The different hairstyles of warriors determine the various ranks within the army. The artist, through her works, gives us an interesting path through temporal spaces, geographical and mythological to transport us in a meeting of two different cultures.
The Biennale China – Italy | Memory, visible up to 20 August 2014, is an important occasion of meeting and especially dialogue between two different civilizations and cultures and it will become an increasingly important appointment in the international art scene. Not to be missed.
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