Ullens Center for Contemporary Art UCCA
798 Art District, No.4 Jiuxianqiao Lu, P.O. Box 8503, Chaoyang District
+86 (0)10 84599269 FAX +86 (0)10 84599717
Three Exhibitions
dal 16/7/2010 al 23/10/2010
Tue - Sun 10-19

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Claudine Colin Communication

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Three Exhibitions

Ullens Center for Contemporary Art UCCA, Beijing

Hope Tunnel by Zhang Huan includes the wreckage of a train destroyed during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and a documentary recounting every step of the train's journey. Yu Hong autobiographical approach to art positions friends, family and personal experience against the upheavals of recent Chinese history, thus giving world-changing events a more human significance. Using simple materials, everyday objects, wry wit and written instructions that invite people to interact with his sculptures, Erwin Wurm encourages spectators to poke fun at the paradoxes of contemporary society.

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Zhang Huan. Hope Tunnel
July 17, 2010 - October 24, 2010
curated by Jerome Sans

Every so often there comes an event that rattles our faith, shatters what we have built and shakes us to our very foundations. The 2008 Sichuan earthquake was one such tragedy. No one who witnessed the terrible destruction and loss of life will ever forget it. Yet in the aftermath of tragedy there is hope, a reminder of what people working together can achieve. Zhang Huan's Hope Tunnel , a curated social project at UCCA, was conceived and designed by an artist who believes that art has the power not just to move us emotionally, but to galvanize us into positive action.

When we behold the train that Zhang Huan purchased, refurbished and installed here, we may find ourselves dwarfed by the scale of the wreckage, dismayed by the destructive force of nature and daunted by the challenges that lie ahead. Perhaps we should feel humbled by the shadow of that awesome bulk, but as the title reminds us, while we may be small, we are not powerless. Through remembrance, reflection and concerted action, each one of us has the power to help—and to hope.
Jérôme Sans, UCCA Director

Zhang Huan's Hope Tunnel as a Rite of Passage

May 12, 2008. Sichuan Province. The earth, in a sudden outpouring of fury, buried both a loaded freight train and the arrogant idea that human beings can somehow conquer the forces of nature. By making us witnesses to a scene that is neither real nor virtual but somewhere in-between, Hope Tunnel forces us to confront the way humans clash with or compromise with the environment. A work of art wrought from the wreckage of a disaster, it is also a curated social project that aims to inspire philanthropy. In each step of the project—locating and obtaining the wreckage, transforming it into a work of art, planning the charity component— we are witnessing the transformation of the artist himself.
In his ear ly work, Zhang Huan pushed the boundaries of personal experience and individual feeling. After emigrating to New York, he created dialogues about groups overlooked by mainstream society. On returning to China, he began making large installations and incense-ash paintings that reflected his own cultural reawakening. Having abandoned the individual experience, Zhang Huan now explores the relat ionship between Mother Nature and the human tribe. Hope Tunnel is the truest rite of passage, another step in Zhang Huan's artistic evolution.
Zheng Yan, Head of Art Department

Artist Statement

At 2:28 p.m. on May 12, 2008, on an otherwise ordinary afternoon, the ground in China began to tremble. Something had fractured deep within the earth, rending and ripping, turning peaks into valleys and valleys into tombs. When the wave of destruction hit, countless fragile lives were lost and many more were injured. Sichuan's once-lush landscape was turned into a desolate wasteland, a swath of death. Freight train no. 21043 was carrying over 600 tons of grain and 12 tanks of aviation fuel through tunnel no. 109 on the Baoji–Chengdu railway when it collided with a massive boulder displaced by the quake and derailed. An hour later, the fuel tanks exploded, engulfing the train in flames and trapping two conductors in the engine carriage. It was a moment that will remain etched in our memories forever: a moment of great tragedy and suffering, but also of great love and determination. Both conductors were quickly rescued and survived the ordeal. It was the only railway disaster of the 2008 Wenchuan/Sichuan earthquake.

When I saw the news reports and photos of the train tragedy, I was badly shaken. In a single blow, our whole philosophy about human beings conquer ing na ture had been demol ished. I remember thinking that I should acquire the train cars and fuel tanks and preserve them. After a convoluted and frustrating process, I finally managed to get in touch with the salvage company in Xi'an that had possession of the train. By then, the oil tanks were already gone and they were planning to sell the remaining wreckage to a steelworks to be melted down. I asked them to hold the train for me and flew to Xi'an with some friends the next day. The salvage company didn't care what I was planning to do with the train, but as soon as they realized I was serious about collecting it, they raised the price and said they were willing to sell it. After the contract was signed, our technical director, photographer and a documentary team drove all the way from Shanghai to Xi'an. It took two weeks of hard work to transport the two sections of the train back to our workshop in Shanghai. As a monumental l y impor tant "wi tness to history,"the train is worth preserving. At a time when the whole world is looking toward the future, preserving the past seems more important than ever. Reflecting on the disaster, investigating the causes, mitigating future dangers and finding ways to live in harmony with our environment rather than trying to conquer it—that's where the real future is, the tunnel of hope that leads to tomorrow.

In the UCCA Lobby, we will also be displaying two of Zhang Huan's large incense-ash sculptures, Mi l i tary Off icer and Cul tural Off icer . These oversize sculptures are crafted from incense ash collected from some twenty temples in and around Shanghai. It is a process requiring enormous patience and finesse, as no monk or abbot will accept payment for such material; rather, the artist must convince the temple of the purity of his intent before he is allowed to remove the ashes and transport them to his studio. Once the incense ash is collected, it is sorted and mixed with a binding agent before being molded into various shapes. Over time, the sculptures will shed a certain amount of their surface material, highlighting the ephemeral nature of art, creation, belief and even life itself.


Yu Hong. Golden Sky
July 17, 2010 - September 15, 2010
curated by Jérôme Sans

In her new series Golden Sky , acclaimed painter Yu Hong reanimates history by combining classical and religious composition with scenes from modern, secular life. Inspired by the Buddhist cave paintings of Dunhuang and Kizil, classical western works of art and her own extensive reading and scholarship, the artist populates her large canvases with vivid, life-sized figures that are as familiar to us as we are to them: men, women and children going about their daily lives against the backdrop of a golden sky, citizens of a gilded and uncertain age.

In art as in life, a slight shift in perspective can lead to a greatly altered perception. Displaying Yu Hong's paintings on the ceiling reinvigorates the relationship between viewer and viewed, subject and object, artist and audience. As we gaze up at the people in Yu Hong's paintings and they gaze back at us, one thing seems clear: all of us are looking at a present that will someday be history.
Jérôme Sans, UCCA Director

Yu Hong: Reconstructing and Reinterpreting the Classics

When a work of art becomes a classic or is transformed into a symbol , i ts meaning is fixed. Later, as the work is reconstructed and reinterpreted, it takes on a broader moral and intellectual significance. The process by which this happens is not unlike a complex mathematical equation, where the present value of certain variables determines the work's future importance.

Atrium, Questions for Heaven, Natural Selection and Sky Curtain take their cues from classical, highly-symbolic works of art. By stripping away the original religious, historical or mythological variables and replacing them with people and scenes from the present day, Yu Hong translates the classical language of painting into a modern vernacular.

In Golden Sky, the artist's canvases are displayed on the ceiling, thus allowing us to engage with her work on a deeper level. It is akin to a religious experience:we marvel at her paintings not just for their beauty and majesty, but for the epiphanies they inspire.
Zheng Yan, Head of Art Department

Artist Statement

For the last several years, I've been very focused on classical Chinese and western culture. Bycombining research into traditional culture with a re-examination of contemporary society, I hope to create works of art that transcend cultural barriers and capture the essence of something universal. Atrium was inspired by Trionfo di Ercole (Triumph of Hercules) from the Quattro Stagione del'Olimpio (Four Seasons of Olympia) fresco at the Palazzo Pepoli Campo Grande in Bologna, Italy, but the subjects are people I've taken casual snapshots of. They're all going about their lives, playing and talking and reaching out for things unseen. It's just like in real life: none of us can see everything, or escape our own blind spots. Questions for Heaven takes its composition from a Buddhist cave painting from Dunhuang's Mogao Grottoes, and its title from a two-thousand-year old poem that poses 172 questions about the universe. It expresses the uncertainty people feel in our fast-paced society, the doubts and unanswered questions we have about the world, life, ethics, morality, and economic and social development.

Natural Selection is modeled on Ridiculous Folly , a copperplate etching by Francisco Goya. It explores the relationship between human beings and the civilization we create. If through our own greed and folly, we lose the civilization we've made, we'll end up right back where we started and our lives will be duller than ever. Sky Curtain relates to a cave painting that once adorned the grottoes in Kizil, Xinjiang Province. To that composi t ion, I added elements of contemporary news photos to illustrate the cycle of humanity – birth and death, ignorance and wisdom, loss and gain – and force the viewer to confront the unavoidable realities of life. These four paintings will be displayed on the ceiling of the Middle Room at UCCA. I hope the effect will be like classical ceiling frescoes: viewers will raise their heads to look up at them, and the subjects in the paintings will gaze back down.


Erwin Wurm. Narrow Mist

July 17, 2010 - September 15, 2010
curated by Jérôme Sans

Leading Austrian sculptor Erwin Wurm is an artist like no other. With each new work, he reinvents the vocabulary of sculpture and turns the lexicon—and occasionally his audience—on its head. Using simple materials, everyday objects, wry wit and written instructions that invite people to interact with his sculptures, Erwin Wurm makes spectators into active participants and encourages them to poke fun at the paradoxes of contemporary society.

Is Narrow House charmingly slender or claustrophobically cramped? Are the standing box sculptures fashion plates, fashion victims or simply well-dressed squares? Are the one-minute sculptures earnest reminders that all art, even sculpture, is ephemeral, or are they just lists of absurd and impossible tasks? In Narrow Mist , Erwin Wurm's first exhibition at UCCA, the artist leaves these questions to his audience. To experience his artwork is to become a work of art yourself.
Jérôme Sans, UCCA Director

Through the Eyes of Erwin Wurm

Whether he's creating unconventional pairings of items in "one-minute sculptures," grafting human obesity onto houses and cars or dressing cardboard boxes in prêt-a-porter, Erwin Wurm blurs the boundaries of sculpture and challenges us to see the world in different ways. Wurm's Narrow House might look like a funhouse, but it raises disturbing questions about the terror of having our personal space constricted, restricted or invaded. By tackling serious subjects in a lighthearted manner, Erwin Wurm gets his message across. "If you approach things with a sense of humor," he says, "people immediately assume you're not to be taken seriously. But I think truths about society and human existence can be approached in different ways. You don't always have to be deadly serious." Seeing the world through Erwin Wurm's eyes does more than bring a smile to our faces, it opens our minds to unfamiliar ideas and helps us experience the world in new and weirder ways.
Zheng Yan, Head of Art Department

UCCA Communications Director
Vivienne Li Email: Vivienne.li@ucca.org.cn

Press Contact:
Claudine Colin Communication 28 rue de Sévigné – F-75004 Paris Tél : +33 (0)1 42 72 60 01
Press Coordination: Christelle Maureau Email: christelle@claudinecolin.com
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July 16, 2010 18:30 - 19:30
Artists Talk: The Far Side of Sculpture-a dialogue between Erwin Wurm and Sui Jianguo

July 17, 2010 13:30 - 14:30
Artists’ Talk: When Art Meets World - Engaging with the Issues
Guests:Zhang Huan,Jérôme Sans

Ullens Center for Contemporary Art UCCA
798 Art District, No.4 Jiuxianqiao Lu, P.O. Box 8503, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Hours: Tuesday - Sunday 10-19
Admission: Adult 15 RMB
Free for student (with a valid ID)
Free for children under 1.3m in height
Free on Thursdays

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