Yan Shi

Yan Shi’s 010013 is set in Anguri Nunu, meaning a lake with swans. This is the place where the nobles of the Khitan Liao dynasty (907–1125) once hunted swans with eagles. It was said that the blood of those swans dripped down like rain, and historians indicate that it is this culture of violence that ultimately led to the collapse of the Liao dynasty. Today, the memories of this history have been erased from the area and all that remains is a busy road, the site of Yan’s performance. With a camera taped to his leg, Yan runs across the road, back and forth, avoiding the cars and trucks that are roaring past. Every step is dangerous. The video implies a potential tragedy while gesturing to the precarity of life, captured all on camera. As the artist says, the recording functions “like an anthropological museum that preserves the swan-killing gadget that is usually made of fine jade, like a screwdriver, and can pierce the swan’s skull.” Moreover, by dangerously traversing the busy highway, the artist–both his vulnerable flesh and the momentum of this crossing action–calls attention to the universal conditions we are faced in 2020: conditions impasse, finiteness, and transcendence.

Born in Shenyang, Heilongjiang Province, in 1975, Yan Shi studied at the Photography Department of LuXun Academy of Fine Arts and Multimedia and Mixed Media Department at the Art College of Xiamen University. He now lives and works in Beijing. Yan Shi’s artistic practice is inclusive and unrestricted by media or materials. Yan’s profound observation of contemporary life is deeply rooted in examining, and dialogue with, art historical narratives. His artworks are presented in a straightforward manner, summoning the object itself to speak, and inviting the viewer into the unknown and open-ended exploration.

Su Wei is an art writer and curator based in Beijing. His recent work focuses on re-depicting and deepening the history of Chinese contemporary art, exploring the roots of its legitimacy and rupture. In 2014, he was awarded first place at the first International Awards for Art Criticism (IAAC). He was the Senior Curator of Inside-Out Museum Beijing between 2017 and 2019.His curatorial projects include: the 7th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale Accidental Message: Art is Not a System, Not a World, OCT Contemporary Art Terminal (OCAT), Shenzhen, 2012; No References: A Revisit of Hong Kong Media and Video Art from 1985 at Videotage, Hong Kong, 2016; Crescent: Retrospectives of Zhao Wenliang and Yang Yushu, The Lonely Spirit and Community of Feeling: Emotional Patterns in Art in Post-1949 China at Beijing Inside-Out Art Museum, 2017-2019, etc. In 2015, he participated in the symposium Dislocations: Remapping Art Histories at Tate Modern, London. He co-curated the symposium Transcultural Research and Curatorial Practice in China’s Contemporary Art at Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) in Manchester. He has published a number of articles in local and international art journals including YISHU: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, Journal of Contemporary Art (Bristol, UK) and Kunstforum.

Notes for Tomorrow is a traveling exhibition organized and produced by Independent Curators International (ICI) and initiated by Frances Wu Giarratano, Jordan Jones, Becky Nahom, Renaud Proch, and Monica Terrero. The exhibition was made possible with the generous support of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, VIA Art Fund and ICI’s Board of Trustees and International Forum.

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