China in Four Seasons: Jin Jiangbo
4 July – 6 September 2009
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery
Opening 4 July 2009, the vast and penetrating photographs of acclaimed artist Jin Jiangbo mark the beginning of the Govett-Brewster’s major series China in Four Seasons. Eschewing the national survey format in favour of a year long project comprising four exhibitions and residencies, this series presents to New Zealand audiences the extraordinary power, singularity and insight of certain artists working in China today.
Against a backdrop of worldwide economic malaise, Jin Jiangbo presents recent series of photographic works begun in 2007. Using series titles such as Great Economic Retreat, Chinese Market Scene and Shanghai, Shanghai, his arresting panaromas offer an immediate response to the complex fabric within the unique socialist economic landscape of China as it negotiates within wider frames of globalisation and integration.
The 2008 series Great Economic Retreat features the industrial ruins of factories in Dongguan, Southern China, recently and hastily abandoned by companies chasing ever lower productions costs. His images capture the empty production workshops and the deserted dormitories of factories often shut down literally overnight.
The artist says, “My process enters a space of expressionless aesthetic research. Within the long process of history, things and people shuttle though, and as time passes they gradually disappear and are lost, leaving only the buildings and spaces, as ‘witnesses to history’.”
In the months immediately preceding this exhibition Jin Jiangbo turned his attention to Shanghai where he documents the massive construction, and urban renewal projects underway in the lead up to the 2010 Shanghai Expo with its theme of ‘Better City, Better Life’. The Chinese economic engine is being re-started, and the artist asks, ‘can it be sustained?’ This series Shanghai Shanghai is presented for the first time as part of the Govett-Brewster’s exhibition.
As the Gallery’s 2009 International Artist in Residence, Jin Jiangbo will also explore related concerns by examining disused factories and sites within the region of Taranaki, itself a unique story of radical economic growth and change over the past two decades.
China in Four Seasons curator and Govett-Brewster Director Rhana Devenport says 2009 is a potent moment to examine contemporary arts practice in China after twenty years of tremendous social, political, economic and cultural upheaval since 1989;
”This century has witnessed unprecedented attention on Chinese contemporary art from the (western) international arts community while art production, infrastructure and distribution within China has radically expanded and redefined itself. Museums alone have grown exponentially from 300 to 2,300 over the period. The current global financial crisis has now provoked an equally dramatic deflation of the Chinese art market ‘bubble’. Jin Jiangbo’s work interrogates the very heart of these last five to ten years as evidence of the China’s ‘Economic Miracle’ and subsequent ‘retreat’ and ‘re-balance’ playing out in the physical world”.
Based in Shanghai and Bejjing, Jin Jiangbo is one of China’s foremost recent generation of media artists while the exhibition presents his first investigations with the ‘historic’ process of medium format photography. Jin Jiangbo was born in 1972 in Zhejiang province. He is director of digital arts at Shanghai University and is completing his PhD at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Jin Jiangbo exhibits internationally; exhibitions include the Venice Biennale (2003), the 3rd Nanjing Triennial (2008), the Shanghai Biennale (2002) and Booming?, Wall Art Museum, Beijing and Shanghai Gallery of Art (2008).
Further artists to be presented in China in Four Seasons include Guo Fengyi (curated with The Long March Space, a leading independent art space in China), Song Dong and Yin Xiuzhen.
The Govett-Brewster’s Artist in Residency programme brings one international and one New Zealand artist to New Plymouth each year. It is offered in partnership with Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki and with support from Creative New Zealand. This exhibition is also supported by Asia New Zealand Foundation, Te Kairanga Wines and Radio Network Taranaki.