December 26, 2009

Speak is Code

(News from Phil in China)

Jiao Tong Teahouse 28 December 2009

Yao Bo, Philip Davenport, Wang Jun

Jiao Tong Teahouse is a mesh of conversations, meetings, deals made, gambling and over it all, parrots swing on their perches, aping the human noise. It is an intersection and into it the work of three artists is placed for the Speak is Code exhibition. The works explore the space between us all, locate the holes in language and - as Davenport’s poem says – “The impasse between skin.”

Yao Bo, ceramicist and painter premieres a version of her continuing major work On Reading Beckett: a long text response to Beckett is handwritten in Chinese script onto manuscript paper. As counterpoint, a series of collapsed pots – like collapsed lungs – are placed onto each piece of paper. From some of the pots comes the sound of the piece being read aloud. Yao Bo’s work explores the delicate seams of identity – where we join and where we fall apart.

My Paintings are Invisible by Philip Davenport is a poem sequence combining Chinese and Western alphabets. The work is dedicated to Hai Zi (1965-89) the Chinese poet. Alphabets of East and West entwine to make word pictures, ‘invisible paintings’, each given an imaginary colour. They are on translucent paper, scripted half in Chinese (by Chinese artists) and half in English. The two alphabets sometimes join, sometimes separate. These are ‘paintings’ of absence, images that never grow clear – and Hai Zi becomes a symbol for all who are missing, all that we cannot say.

Wang Jun is an artist whose works balance meaning against nothing. His recent pieces cross-breed industrial processes with the landscapes of hanzi that fill his paintings. He crunches together the Tao Te Ching, Wiggenstein and postmodernity into mould-presses misfits.

Exhibition curated by Philip Davenport, artist in residence 501 Artspace. Contributing artists to My Paintings are Invisible: Deng Chuan, Mao Yan Yang, Pang Xuan, Wang Jun, Xu Guang Fu, Yan Yan, Zheng Li, translation Deng Chuan, Yan Yan and Zhong Na. Philip would like to thank all for their kindness and for the beauty of their writing.

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