Never Equal Distance To The Moon
part I, Power
“One change a year, one big change in three years, and one unidentifiable transformation in five years.”
The above quote by Chairman Deng Xiaoping sums up the immense power of the Chinese communist party and defines the target for China's future development. In this poetic slogan Deng defines power in a simple statement. With this statement he redefines society. The theme in the first part of "Never Equal Distance to the Moon" is Power. Political and social power-structures, but also the power of a market. Chinese contemporary art is highly influenced by social realism. With clear references to national and international socialist icons - usually deceased - and with socialist symbols, like critique of the Cultural Revolution as props. Art with social criticism in China has – ironically – become a significant object of investment. Large international institutions have flocked to Beijing and Shanghai to invest in Chinese contemporary art, and the market is overheated. For some Chinese artists there are long waiting-lists, and the painting – in particular – has become an industry.
The social criticism which characterises Chinese contemporary art is hardly controversial any longer. The Chinese system, with its new openness, has succeeded including their artists in a much larger political project - which has nothing to do with social criticism, less to do with art and a lot to do with a market. Where do we find the real social criticism in modern Chinese art? As curators we try to investigate how power is read and understood in different cultural contexts. Do the works speak outside of China? Can they be universally understood?
The choice of digital photography/video as medium for “Never Equal Distance to the Moon” seemed natural. Photography is reproducible in large quantities and far less commercially tainted than painting or sculpture. Photography also has a long documentary tradition and provides better access to the story-line. Photo and video venture beyond the market with a more liberal – and personal - approach to the issues in question. The fact that these works are aesthetically pleasing is not coincidental. The fact that there is an immediate sense of aesthetics in the works allows the viewer to identify with the work, and perhaps also with the exhibition’s theme. We were eager to see how these works would be read and understood in different cultural contexts. The review from the Danish newspaper Politiken suggests that the works communicate across cultural and social barriers. This met one of our targets for the project.”
– Bjørn Inge Follevaag / Wang Baoju