You’re Never Too Old to Explore

Ralph Lemon.  Image courtesy of RedCat.

How can you go in the house all day and not go anywhere? That is the question Ralph Lemon asks in his latest work, also doubling as the work’s title, which marks his return after a four-year hiatus.  The part-stage, part-video, part-dance, and part-I-don’t-know-what-to-call-it multi-media piece poetically explores themes of loss, grief, and rebirth through a science-fiction framework. Not only does he provide us with a performance, but he also pushes his audience as far as he possibly can. “You’re Never Too Old to Explore”

By way of Jenny Yurshansky

Jenny Yurshansky’s work negotiates the space between the poetic and the empiric by manipulating everyday materials into unparalleled forms through sculpture, site-specific installations and interventions.  By way of erasure and negative space, she underscores what is known through first establishing what is not known.

“By way of Jenny Yurshansky”

Weaving the Past and Present with Zhang Peili and Zhu Jia

Zhu Jia, “Forever” (stills), 1994, single-channel video, 27 min. Courtesy the artist and ShanghArt Gallery, Shanghai.

This past weekend I ventured off to see Not Only Time, a free exhibit featuring Chinese artists Zhang Peili and Zhu Jia, at the RedCat. Though both artists earned degrees in oil painting, they have joined the ranks of Chinese artists who use video and digital media as their medium of choice.  Often at the stake of governmental and/or western infiltration, Chinese artists turned to video as a means of experimentation, not solely for aesthetic purposes, but as a means to document and respond to the political, social and economic changes during and after the Cultural Revolution and Tiananmen Square riots in 1989.  Video was easy to use, accessible, and easily circulated, which contributed to the widespread emergence of video art in Chinese contemporary art.

“Weaving the Past and Present with Zhang Peili and Zhu Jia”

As if you didn’t feel strange enough at openings…

Dan Graham has found a way to make art openings even more awkward for everyone at Regen Projects in West Hollywood. Bringing double-consciousness to Los Angeles with the help of a pavilion and five architectural models, Graham’s aluminum and glass environments are hybrids of many things — art and architecture, transparency and reflection, inside and outside, subjectivity and objectivity. The situation is such that the viewer sees his reflection and simultaneously sees himself being seen. This doubling that Graham calls “perceiving and being perceived by other people” is made possible by large areas of half-reflective/half-transparent two-way mirror windows and connecting slabs of perforated metal (which function like tiny peepholes, making the metal barriers transparent up close). Graham’s constructions evolve from the simplified forms that corporate office buildings used in the 1970s when Jimmy Carter’s administration punished big businesses, leading corporations to cut costs, and made structural changes to the facade. Corporations literally made their buildings colder by reflecting sunlight with two-way mirrors thus reducing the electrical bill. Although the corporate model for the two-way mirror creates a wholly reflective mirror for the outside party that is a window for insiders, Graham makes it possible for the viewer to see through his mirrors by providing equal transparency on both sides of the glass. In this hybridized model of transparency and reflection, one cannot disappear.

“As if you didn’t feel strange enough at openings…”

Yue Opera

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAxgNWbn8kA]

With almost 300 types of Chinese Opera, Yue Opera distinguishes itself from most other opera forms with its rejection of traditional all-male performers for an all-female ensemble.  Developed at the start of the twentieth century in Zhejiang Province near the Yangtze River basin, Yue Opera began as a local forum for folklore and singing, founded upon love stories and narratives involving countryside women.  As Shanghai (near Zhejiang Province) rapidly grew as a prominent political, economic and cultural center, it affected the style of Yue Opera through introducing Hollywood cinema, Italian opera and other Western art forms.  By the 1960s, Yue Opera was no longer solely dedicated to rural life, as themes of modern women became the focal point.  Today, the opera style shares the same cultural spotlight with Peking Opera, as it too derives themes from traditional Chinese tales and literature.  Most importantly, Yue Opera’s striking development over the last century and its unconventional all-female cast has eliminated the limits of Chinese performing arts.

-Iris Yirei Hu