Edward Burtynsky – Manufacturing #17, Deda Chicken Processing Plant, Dehui City, Jilin Province, China, 2005
For Edward Burtynsky, photography is much more than immortalizing a scene; while his focus is on taking photos, he is keen on sharing his point of view with the rest of the world. One of the most outstanding aspects of his works is his ability to connect to the real world. China for instance is a massive country, comprised of 3.7-million-square-miles of manufacturing landscape and that means people are busy all the time. What is a picture of China without a hint of humanity? The many pictures Burtynsky has taken of China appear to be carefully thought out; each one makes use of a location that not only captures what is happening on a large-scale, but also the people who make it happen.
Marina Abramovic – The Lovers: The Great Wall Walk (still), 1988/2008, performed for 90 days along The Great Wall of China. 16mm film transferred to two-channel video
Artists Marina Abramovic and Ulay are known in many parts of the world as the lovers whose relationship ended at the Great Wall of China. Initially, when the couple planned the trip, they intended to get married at the center of the wall. However, it was years later when the couple finally acquired all the authorization required from the Chinese government and were able to raise funds for the projected. Sadly, by then, the couple’s 12-year relationship has crumbled and what started out as a marriage celebration turned into last goodbyes for the couple. The couple had planned to be the first people to walk the entirety of the Great Wall, however, they were beaten to the punch by a Chinese railway clerk.
Li Hongbo – Teaching Aid, 2014, paper
Li Hongbo is an artist based in Beijing, China and creates unusual and surprising art pieces from paper. A designer and book editor, Li Hongbo started collecting and experimenting his ideas with paper after being inspired by the festive ‘paper gourd’ decorations and traditional Chinese boys’ toys. Both of these pieces have a simple but amazing ‘honeycomb’ composition and can be molded into any shape.
Huang Qingjun – Family Stuff
Normally, life is viewed from the perspective of people as they appear in public. It is not unusual to come across a rich looking individual only to realize that their background or where they call home is not as lavish. When what we consider to be normal is transformed inside out, then a whole new dynamism of sights emerges. When Huang Qingjun took his first family picture of such nature in 2003, it would be the beginning of a new view in photography. Together with Ma Hongjie, they have for 10 years now been capturing scenes of life in its fragility.
Zhang Huan – 12 Square Meters, 1994, single channel video, 3min 2sec, documentation of a 40-minute performance
Zhang Huan is no stranger to controversy. Having attended school at a time when China was undergoing a dramatic time in its history, Zhang learned a lot from the years of protests and demonstrations that would be staged in front of the Tiananmen Square in Beijing. As an avid fan of Avant-garde art, Zhang did not really have adequate resources at his disposal that would allow him to execute his artistic vision. As such, and not surprisingly, Zhang decided to change the way he expressed himself by adopting a more provocative and transgressive form of performance art, which was later photographed and documented.
Andy Warhol blowing up Silver Clouds, Los Angeles, 1966
Andy Warhol is no stranger to critical acclaim; his various works introduced thousands of audiences to contemporary art which helped to put American artists on the map, and it waged a war against abstract expressionism. Warhol effectively managed, time and time again, to shatter distinctions in art and he helped to reshape the aesthetic criteria that many people used to categorize art. In true fashion, Warhol inspired an artistic revolution of epic proportions that was felt not just in America, but in other parts of the world as well.
Qiu Zhijie – Tattoo 2, 1994
Qiu Zhijie is well known for his capacity to add provoking new meanings to traditional Chinese calligraphy. In many of his works, Qiu incorporates calligraphy into modern media as a way of fusing important elements from his culture into his art. His Tattoo series that was released in 1994 explores the state of one’s independence and invisibility.