As a winner of the John Moores Art Critical Prize (China), I was invited to Liverpool for a couple of weeks, which left a great impression on me.
The old Anglican Cathedral which was very close to my apartment, was the first place I visited in Liverpool. At the time, people were holding religious services and singing carols while Tracey Emin’s red neon light work hung right over the back wall of the cathedral: “I felt you and I know you loved me!”.
I never believed that contemporary art could be so well combined with traditional religion before, and even the neon light put a sense of mystery and faith in my heart.What confused me most was how a Cathedral, which should be conservative, can accept a such rebellious artist within its walls. As we know, it’s no doubt a risky adventure, but definitely successful.
In FACT gallery, there was a voting machine and a big sign saying “Capitalism Works For Me” inside the main entrance. Everyone can vote for whether they think capitalism works or not , and what was interesting for me, was that the votes for ‘False’ were much higher than those for ‘True’ – this situation, however, would be quite the opposite in China.
Since the reform in the 1970s and 80s last century, China actually became not much different from other capitalist countries .As a result, the Chinese would probably be more in support of capitalism than the fake-socialism of the past. Although this piece of art is more like social and political research, with the ways that everyone can take part in the gallery, this work become artistic as well, as the artist gives us an opportunity to share our opinions about politics in public, which is hardly possible in China.
Another work in FACT gallery named Echo by Mark Boulos is a video installation. In a dark room, there is a big screen and beam of light in the middle. As soon as I stepped out into the light, my reflection appeared on the screen but with a totally different background, surrounded by buildings and traffic in the centre of London, as if I had teleported to somewhere else suddenly. The reflection of mine does as I do, like I am a ghost in the street.
With this highly developed technique in art, the new question may not be whether to use it, but how to make it in an artistic way. Echo reminds me of the self-portrait in mirror, re-recognization of myself, or psychoanalytic theory, but mainly a particular experience to see myself being somewhere else. I think it could be made more interesting if I could see my reflection in the place where I am right now, but a video recorded before.
I also saw David Hockney’s solo show in Walker Gallery, and the exhibition of Bob Cobbing: ABC in Sound (LJMU Exhibition Research Centre), which exhibits his books, prints, documents, films and sound pieces as well. What was most impressive, was at the end of the exhibition opening, a man, looking into one of Bob Cobbing’s works for a while, suddenly started to sing impromptu, and he performed so amazingly that it inspired everyone at that moment, which made a little boring opening unexpected and unforgettable, and made my night romantic as well. I think it might be the best way to commemorate the deceased master whose whole life is focus on sound.
Mark Boulos is on at FACT until 21 November 2013
Bob Cobbing continues at the ERC (John Lennon Art & Design Building) until 22 November 2013
David Hockney continues at The Walker until 16 March 2014