“Maybe, in some distant place, everything is already, quietly, lost.
Or at least there exists a silent place where everything can
disappear, melting together in a single, overlapping figure. And as
we live our lives we discover - drawing toward us the thin threads
attached to each - what has been lost.”
(Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart)
Andi Schmied is a very innovative and versatile 28 years old Hungarian born artist, an adventurer who collects stories from different parts of the world, focusing on exploring the contemporary social space relationship.
Space and community are at the core of her elaborate exploration in ‘Jing Jin City’ series about a largely unpopulated Chinese luxury housing development an hour from Bejing. The satellite city encompasses the Sisyphean kernel of a utopia expanding more and more in China in the last years. China's building boom has created a ton of abandoned cities and massive ruins. ‘Jing Jin City’ project helps the global society in understanding the mechanisms behind the unsuccessful development in countries like China and the creation of these vacant fools’ paradises.
Developed in 2002 and immediately labeled as a ‘new city’, the three thousand luxury villas and entertainment complexes of Jing Jin weave the background to Andi Schmied’s art works. She has made the genuine installations with leftover building materials and documented them both at the making and half-year later. The city’s four thousand luxury villas exist in various stages of incompletion, ranging from concrete shells with unfinished interiors to rendered façades with landscaped gardens. Their architecture is a patchwork of symbols, drawn from a catalogue of American suburban fantasies: double-height living rooms, grand staircases, timber gazebos, classical columns, Greek statues, cavernous basements, water fountains. Piles of unused construction materials lie around driveways, gathering dust inside garages and on living room floors.
It is not a ghost town, but has a life of its own; the city is maintained in a perfect shape by a small army of gardeners and guards who also make up the majority of the city’s permanent population. Guards man the entrances into the gated communities where nobody lives; gardeners cut the overgrown grass in the empty unsold suburbs, while cleaners put up perfectly ironed curtains in the raw concrete interiors of the houses facing the main road. Their activity maintains the illusion of the city being functional. After their shift ends, they change from the keepers into the residents of the city: sleeping in the villas that they meant to guard, building constructions of unused building materials, improvising furniture and modifying the interiors on a daily basis. Inside double-height living rooms, guards build sculptures out of window panes. During winter they are breaking through the ice to go fishing on the frozen river that separates the golf course from the largest villas.
During 2014, Andi Schmied has visited the city twice to document it and to build constructions in accordance with Jing Jin City’s state of permanent renewal - as a form of exaggeration. She has come to alter the landscape by rearranging it the same way how it is already happening in the city. In between the two trips, parts of her interventions fell, materials weathered, while vegetation grew and ice melted. - and new constructions appeared built by the people living there.
Andi Schmied thus ventures into the rabbit’s hole and re-creates a wonderland with a single whimsical protagonist, redefines an invisible (though glamourous) space within its own flashy borders and courageously re-arranges an utterly lonely reality.
The artistic must-do
In the next 3 months, you can find Andi in DordtYart Gallery (Netherlands, 10kms from Rotterdam), which is an open-platform residency offering you the possibility to see her art work progressing throughout various creative experimentations: http://dordtyart.nl
Don’t miss her!
Find and follow Andi Schmied:
• Website: http://andischmied.com
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hi.imandi?fref=ts
• Exhibitions at Daniel Blau London art venue: http://www.danielblau.com/exhibitions/2014/jing-jin-city-and-miracle-village
• Art in residence at DordtYart Gallery Netherlands: http://dordtyart.nl