To mark the 25th anniversary of the city partnership between Berlin and Beijing, the Gesellschaft für Deutsch-Chinesischen kulturellen Austausch (GeKA e.V., Society for German-Chinese Cultural Exchange) in cooperation with the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin is showing works by young artists from Berlin and Beijing at the Museum für Fotografie (Museum of Photography). The participating artists studied at the weißensee kunsthochschule berlin, the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK) and the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing (CAFA). He Xiangyu (何翔宇), an artist who lives in Berlin and Beijing, has also accepted an invitation to take part in the exhibition. He Xiangyu (何翔宇), who travels regularly between the two cities, is a conceptual artist exploring a wide range of media and themes. His works are currently on display in the Chinese pavilion at the Venice Biennale. In his contribution to the Berlin exhibition, he juxtaposes a minimalistic wooden sculpture with a photograph that can only be recognised as an image of that object at second glance. This work links him with that of Yala Juchman, who extends her photographs into the surrounding space and transforms them into objects. She, too, integrates very diverse media into her concepts – shifting between photography, sculpture, installation and performance.
Despite their very different cultural backgrounds, the artists nominated by their universities have more in common than would initially be expected. They all live in large cities and navigate quite effortlessly between their origins and traditions and a global lifestyle characterised by architecture, consumption and media. For the artists Ye Funa (叶甫纳), Li Buinyuan and Chi Peng (迟鹏), who grew up in China, as well as for Rie Yamada, who was born in Japan, an area of conflicting priorities emerges between their own strong artistic traditions and the realm of modern and contemporary art that was still dominated by Western influences two decades ago. This dissonance provides fertile ground for examining social roles and sexual identity. Ye Funa (叶甫纳) uses her videos and photographs to play with the roles possible within her own family and art history, while Rie Yamada tries out various roles and family constellations in her photographic self-portraits. The works of photographer Chi Peng (迟鹏), who usually plays the leading role in his dream-like presentations, express the search for one’s own position – between East and West as well.
In contrast, Jannis Schulze is never visible in his own images; his rather casual photographs reflect his subjective attitude towards life in poetic visualisations that he associatively combines in books and exhibitions. Thomas Koester, on the other hand, constructs austere tableaux with his black-and-white photographs in which the inhabitants of large cities such as Moscow or Seoul merge with their urban surroundings. Li Binyuan (厉槟源), who recently showed his video works at MoMA PS1, interacts bodily with his natural and constructed environment in performances documented in film and photographs.
The exhibition was initiated by Professor Yu Zhang (张彧), President of the Gesellschaft für Deutsch-Chinesischen kulturellen Austausch e.V. (GeKA), and is supported by the GeKa, the Berlin Senate Chancellery, the Wemhörner Collection, the Mart Stam Gesellschaft, the Karl Hofer Gesellschaft and WALL AG.
The exhibition is curated by Professor Stefan Koppelkamm (weißensee kunsthochschule) and Professor Miao Xiaochun (CAFA).