Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas


  • Chen Shaoxiong: Ink Things
  • 07-Nov-2009 - 14-Feb-2010
  • Electronic Arts Gallery, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas

"A commodity appears at first sight an extremely obvious, trivial thing. But its analysis brings out that it is a very strange thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties." Karl Marx, Das Kapital

In the last few years, China has emerged as the top exporter of consumer goods to the United States. From toys to socks, now more than ever, the Chinese economy is shaping our daily material existence in this country. In Ink Things, Chen Shaoxiong (born 1962) ponders the place of all this “stuff” in our daily lives. Merging digital photography, ink painting, music and video Chen captures the discontinuity of urban memory. Seemingly without plot, Chen delves into the associative meanings of things to create a work that rarely has the same meaning twice. Ink Things is part of an ongoing series of video animations that employs the historically significant medium of ink in an exploration of the shifting conditions of life in China today.

A provocateur of the Chinese art world, Chen’s first forays into experimental art were in the 1980s as part of the “urban guerilla” collective known as Big Tail Elephant Group. A pioneer in video art, Chen continues to exhibit widely throughout Europe and Asia including the Venice Biennale (2003), Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China (2004) and most recently Hong Kong and Shenzhen Bi-city Biennale (2008).