Shanghai-based artist Wang Xin’s fourth show is a meta
meditation on the working practices and social behaviours of the contemporary
artist in China. It’s also very pink, a continuation of the artist’s ongoing
Rose-Color series exploring the hue as a symbol of power.
Every Artist is
compelling in the way it plays with art world codes, but its pervasive
self-referential irony can be off-putting at points. One of the less engaging
pieces, consisting of three LED light boxes hung crudely from the ceiling with
chains and hooks, is called ‘How Much For These Beautiful Digital Drawings?’.
Taken out of context, the title sounds like an earnest question from a starving
artist; within the show it feels like a sneering inside joke. (The punchline:
Wang Xin’s work is most interesting when most interactive: the
show’s standout pieces share a participatory, almost sadomasochistic angle. ‘We
Create Future Artists Here’ is a swinging metal chair positioned far too close
to a TV screen blaring a painfully pink video loop. ‘Aura Restoration 1.0’ is a
small, fluorescent-lit box that the viewer can fold into, part sensory
deprivation tank and part tanning bed. The eponymous work is a video game in which
you move a small pink ball around an apocalyptically destroyed version of the
exhibition; it’s supplemented by a machine that shoots plastic balls at you
while you play. The power dynamics between artist, viewer, and potential patron
are thoughtfully blurred in these immersive pieces.
While the interactive
nature of the work can feel muted within the sparsely appointed gallery space,
Every Artist is nevertheless more thought-provoking, and certainly much more
fun than the art fair fodder made by many of Wang Xin’s post-’80s
contemporaries. And De Sarthe does an admirable job of showcasing her work,
which consciously challenges the spaces and structures in which it’s presented.
Wang Xin: Every Artist Should Have a Solo Show, De Sarthe Beijing, until May 29, full event details