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Chen Wei, Yang Fudong and Xu Zhen CHINA 8

Eight cities, nine museums, 120 artists, 500 works. China 8 is the exhibition project in Germany in 2015. There has never been anything like it before. It was opened by Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel in person and was intended to be the highlight of the year, at least for the Rhine-Ruhr area. Whether these high expectations were fulfilled is anybody’s guess. After the opening, the critics had a field day. However, two of the eight exhibitions are receiving consistent good marks, both of them involving artists from the Zimmermann Collection.

“Works in Progress” in the Folkwang Museum, Essen, an exhibition devoted entirely to photography. 24 artists were selected, including Chen Wei with his new series “In the Waves”. The curators of the exhibition, William A. Ewing and Holly Roussell, claim that Chinese art photography has an “explosive power”. Its rapid development is said to be characterised by lively experimentation and by a new generation of students eager to exchange ideas with the international art scene.

The second exhibition in the Glaskasten Sculpture Museum in Marl is entitled “Time stands still – video and sound”, and deals with the medium of video. Yang Fudong with his work “City Light” just had to be included, as one of the most influential Chinese video artists. “The rapidly changing living conditions in the world of work and in everyday life are the focus of many of the videos exhibited. On the one hand, the young generation is benefitting from the country’s economic success, on the other it is struggling with the issue of which political, social and moral values still apply and retain their binding significance”, says curator Georg.

The third artist from the Zimmermann collection, Xu Zhen, is represented in the exhibition “Models of Irritation – Installation and Sculpture” in the Art Gallery at Mülheim an der Ruhr. Unlike the two previous exhibitions, this collection of sculptures and installations was savaged by the critics. Whether this was caused by an unfortunate selection of works or by poor work by the curator is something everyone must decide for themselves. Xu Zhen is indisputably one of the major figures in the Chinese art scene and just had to be included in such an exhibition project.

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