Before going to an art gallery, observers usually have a good idea of what they are about to see. But what happens when even the artists don't know what to expect?
During an upcoming exhibition at the University of Rochester's Hartnett Gallery, audiences will be able to witness the construction of an installation whose creators must interpret another's vision. Over the course of four days, Chinese artists Wang Wei and Shi Qing will install site-specific artwork based on instructions from their Beijing-based colleagues. In Playgrounds of Authorship: The Complete Art Experience Project, Wang and Shi will open eight crates, two each day, of materials to be the basis of the project.
The 10 artists are members of an experimental art collective called the Complete Art Experience Project (CAEP). In August, eight of the artists each packed one crate of materials and instructions for the installation, the contents unknown to anyone else. During the performance part of the project, Wang and Shi will open the boxes and, in front of the public, will create the artwork.
The exhibition will consist of three parts: a video series, the live performance by Wei and Qing, and the final work on display.
From Oct. 6 to Nov. 6, three videos of previous collaborative projects will be shown on two television screens and a projector. Each video is 30 to 40 minutes long and contains the performances of multiple artists showing how the group's experimental and risk-taking approach to collective art practices has evolved over the past five years.
From Oct. 18 to Oct. 21, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., Wang and Shi will open the boxes, read the instructions, and install the artworks using the materials in the crates. As the installation in Hartnett Gallery progresses, it transforms the gallery into a workshop space, blurring the roles of the artist, audience, and artwork. From Oct. 22 to Nov. 6, the finished work will be on display. There will also be an artist and curator talk in the gallery at 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 22, during Meliora Weekend, the University's annual tradition of celebrating homecoming, alumni reunion, and parents' weekend together.
The inspiration for the exhibition came from a folk tale, "jin nang miao ji," which tells the story of a famous general who, on his deathbed, discreetly gives a bag to his trusted colleague. He says the contents of the bag are to be used in a time of trouble. Eventually, a conflict arises and the bag is torn open. The instructions inside set in motion a plan that ultimately saves the day.
Shi is an installation artist, photographer, and videographer whose projects invoke rituals of the body that take place in strangely romanticized spaces of the past, future, and present. Qing was born in Inner Mongolia and has exhibited in group shows throughout China as well as in Korea, Norway, Japan, and England. Wang is an installation and video artist who investigates relationships between architecture, labored bodies, and memory in challenging spatial environments. Wei's work has been exhibited in Beijing, Frankfurt, Chicago, London, and New York City. The other eight artists are Rania Ho, Liu Ding, Liu Wei, Li Zhenhua, Qiu Zhijie, Colin Chinnery, Wu Ershan, and Zhang Hui.
The Hartnett Gallery is located in Wilson Commons on the University of Rochester's River Campus. Hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. For more information, call Hartnett Gallery at (585) 275-4188.
Playgrounds of Authorship: The Complete Art Experience Project
Hartnett Gallery in Wilson Commons on the University of Rochester's River Campus
Dates: Oct. 6 to Nov. 6
Oct. 6 to Nov. 6: video screenings
Oct. 18 to Oct. 21: live installation project
Oct. 21 to Nov. 6: finished work on display
11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday
noon to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday