Vortex|Yu Guo:Creek, Sea and Territory

2022.10.07 Friday 19:00


2F, The Cloister Apartments, 62 West Fuxing Road, Shanghai

Time:10.7 19:00-20:30

The field of contemporary art has been flooded with terminology related to "locality," around which emerged numerous exhibitions and discussion. People are even under the illusion that by tilting artistic direction towards local contexts, it is possible to break free from homogeneity and develop different approaches, explore new contexts, and change trends… This is, of course, an illusion. In my limited personal experience, I have found that professionals in the field of contemporary art are probably the least "patient" group of people. No matter how complex the context is, you’d better explain yourself in two minutes. The more "professional" people are, the less time they have for others, and they would jump to conclusions within a few sentences. It's not a matter of individual differences, it's a common denominator.

It seems that contemporary art needs only one "context", regardless of vastly different "localities". For instance, in any large-scale biennale, different "localities" are assembled to produce discourses in a larger context.

So I must first ask myself what is the fundamental reason that I am attracted to the concept of "locality" in artistic creation? First of all, anyone's real personal experience and perception is "local". Most artistic creations consider this "realness" as the highest quality obtained through localization, however, experience and perception can also be produced and processed into general knowledge (some of the cultural productions are trying to do just that) .But what interests me more is the sense of chaos contained in "locality," because in "locality" human experience and perception are not abstracted and they still contain many parts that are ignored and obscured by a single narrative. This means "locality" can be represented and studied as well as a subject to return to. In this returning, various narratives could be recovered and recuperated.

In cultural production, I consider "locality " as a way of perception based on geography, rather than as geography itself. At the same time, it is chaotic and cannot be simply labeled. Artistic practice can only produce new contexts through the process of constantly withdrawing from and returning to "locality".

I'd like to share three seemingly unconnected stories in this performance seminar, and discuss topics related to the concept of "locality".

The first one is a story about Chongqing Shuangxi Machinery Factory, which was an arsenal once hidden in rural mountain caves of Chongqing during the Third Line construction. After years of abandonment, the former employees of the factory made a public WeChat account, on which they irregularly share personal histories. Though these articles have very few readers – usually less than a hundred – they were carefully written. I was their faithful reader. I would like to share one of the articles with you as well as my experience in the field trip. The article was written by a young apprentice who used to work in the factory during the Cultural Revolution, and it tells the story of a one day journey the apprentice went through when he was requested by his master to escort the master’s pregnant wife to the railway station using a shabby steel-pipe cart. The apprentice had to go through various terrains in order to accomplish this task.

The second story is my experience of the first time leaving my hometown. In 1993, I travelled with my parents to Hainan from my hometown in Sichuan. We traveled by car, train, ship and other means of transportation, and we went through the old Chengkun Railway. We also encountered various ethnic groups for the first time along the way, however, the memory has become so blurry and deformed that I cannot tell whether it was reality or my imagination.

The third one is my experience as an outsider visiting Xinjiang.

I want to discuss issues related to the topic of "locality" in a divergent way by sharing these three stories, which are not strictly interconnected. For instance, can we extract a new way of perceiving time and space from "locality"? Can "locality" only be included as a specificity in a more general context? …

About the Performer

Yu Guo was born in Tongjiang, Sichuan in 1983, he graduated from Department of Oil Painting of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in 2016, currently lives and works in Chongqing. Yu Guo’s art practice involves painting, video and writing. Base on the space practice, Yu Guo emphasizes the combination of body and media materials to keep the minutes of the creation process. Recently his works focused on the interweaving of images with texts, as well as the interplay between visible and invisible of social fact.

About the Guest in the Post-Performance Talk

Shi Qing is an artist based in Chongqing. He is the co-founder of several art projects, including Chongqing Work Institute and Jiangnan Stack.

About the Vortex

Vortex is a long-term project. We will update the content of performance lectures by artists and talks by experts both on- and offline. Following the fundamental approach of connecting local practice, theories, and context, we hope that this nonstandard art venue will become a place of torrents, flux, and confluence.

The Macalline Center of Art (MACA) is a non-profit art institution located in the 798 Art District of Beijing and officially inaugurated its space on January 15, 2022. Occupying a two-story building with a total area of 900 square meters, MACA unites artists, curators, and other art and cultural practitioners from around the world. Through its diverse, ongoing, and collaborative approaches, the Center establishes a new site on the contemporary art scene. Guided by the “work of artists” and backed by interdisciplinary research, the Center aims to bring together a community passionate about art and devoted to the “contemporary” moment so as to respond proactively to our rapidly evolving times.