Serge Spitzer and Ai Weiwei:
May 20 – August 27, 2006
Our image of China is shaped by a mixture of fascination and skepticism – an experimental combination of authority, Taoism and Modernity.
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (born 1957, lives and works in Beijing) stands for a generation embroiled in upheaval. Likewise, the works of US artist Serge Spitzer (born 1951, lives and works in New York) focus not only on the discovery and investigation of »models of reality« but on the use of everyday materials. On the occasion of the »Humanism in China« exhibition, both artists have for the first time joined forces to create an expansive installation entitled »Ghost Valley coming down the Mountain« (2005 – 2006).
Spread across two rooms, 96 vases have been placed on the floor. Each of them presents a mutually complementary section of one of the most important vases from the Yuan period (1269 – 1368). The vases were made at the original workshop in China, and entail the use of the selfsame materials and techniques as the original. This form of reproduction with its historical, social and economic references to Chinese culture relates these issues to contemporary art discourses on such dualities as copy/original, figuration/abstraction, unique piece/mass item. Fragile and sensitive, they compel the viewer to be cautious, while at the same time constituting a kind of territorial occupation by dint of their grid–like positioning in the rooms.
Opposite this joint project stands Serge Spitzer’s»Quiver, Rustle, Tremble, Stir« (2003–2006), a work using the ambiguity of the space. The movements above the glass ceiling of the exhibition space possess neither a clear form nor a clear goal or unequivocal function. Their origin disappears in the milky opacity of the glass; at times, the structure seems almost biological, at others, mechanical. The work points up notions of order and chaos, structures formed by borders and limitations, and the definition of spatial coordinates. The complex world of »ambiguity« is one of the key topics addressed by Serge Spitzer’s work.
Like the vases installation, »Quiver, Rustle, Tremble, Stir« seems to be a prototypical model in a communications game, whose sculptural qualities transform the exhibition hall into a field for observation and investigation. Each a unique individual piece, the vases always only reproduce one fragment of the original, but are inter-linked by a DNA-like system – just as the spherical bodies visible in the skylights are reminiscent of molecular structures that constantly realign in new configurations.