Ma Qiusha’s From No.4 Pingyuanli to No.4 Tianqiaobeili and Tao Hui’s The Dusk of Teheran are both performances captured by a single camera lens, and both of which have strung together the stories of a lifetime through a single-channel video. Among the younger generation of contemporary Chinese artists, video art has become the mainstream, but those who have adopted this medium to manifest their personal perspectives are still few. “Art for the sake of life” is another classic expression for this kind of personal expression, not only is it part of the modern Chinese art, but also a core component in ancient art and literature, that the concerns of life of an individual as an “analogy” for society and history, this is how new artistic medium or genre grow their roots in existing Chinese experiences.
Production was the work of art Wang Jianwei presented on the 10th Documenta in Kassel. This work could be both considered as a documentary film and a video work. Wang filmed a few groups of people in the public spaces of Sichuan. In this 60-min clip without any traces of interviews, large sections its dialogues and monologues did not build up a central narrative, on the contrary, its discontinuous empty shots and its intentionally added artificial noise done in post-production engendered a kind of ambiguous and mixed – either politically or aesthetically – visual presence. Likewise, the title of the artwork equally embraces this bewildering character. “Production” is both a terminology rich in every day and local experiences, and a technical term with critical and theoretical implications. In all, this work is not only prescient for Wang Jianwei’s ongoing ambivalent attitude and approach thereafter, but also underscores the wavering conditions between “left and right” for contemporary Chinese art.