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Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in Japan and the USA.

Born 8 December 1957, in Quanzhou City (Fujian Province).

Painter, draughtsman, mixed media, video artist, installation artist, performance artist.

Cai Guo-Qiang trained in stage design at the Shanghai drama institute from 1981 to 1985. He spent several periods in Tibet, emigrated to Japan in 1986, and since 1995 lived in New York. Guo-Qiang made his name by using gunpowder in his work, which he would detonate as a symbol of his desire to free himself from cultural or political fetters. These works may be ephemera, which he captures on film or video—images that literally explode into being, or simulated landmines that detonate when visitors walk on them.

As a bearer of ancestral Chinese culture, Cai holds Western art up for examination as a form of inverse exoticism, shifting familiar ground by displacing his spectators and the way their eyes move. Sometimes, as in ...

Article

Cao Fei  

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born 1978, in Guangzhou, China.

Photographer, performance artist. Video, multimedia.

Cao Fei graduated from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in 2001, having attended middle school at the same institution four years earlier. She was a co-founder of the partnership Ou Ning + Cao Fei. Her early photography and subsequent interactive sound and video-game environments, or ‘machinima’, emerged from her initial interest in commercial advertising and electronic entertainment videos. Her works often blur reality by involving virtual cosplay figures who imitate manga superhero figures, often artist friends or youths. These performances take place in the urban environment and engage the art world with virtual economies, as well as linking to the rapid modernization and consumerism emerging within China since the turn of the century. She has become known for her ongoing experimental, animated, ethnographic documentary that engages the online world of Second Life to create the virtual RMB City. The video was first shown at the Venice Biennale (China Tracy Pavilion, ...

Article

British-Chinese, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active in Hong Kong and the United Kingdom.

Born 1977, in Hong Kong.

Installation artist, film-maker. Multimedia, video.

Suki Chan spent her early childhood in Hong Kong’s rural district of the New Territories, before emigrating with her family to Oxford, England, at the age of six. Despite the difficulties of adjusting to a second language and culture and having at times a sense of displacement, she went on to study at London’s Goldsmiths’ College, from which she graduated in ...

Article

Aileen June Wang

(b San Leandro, CA, Feb 3, 1972).

American performance and video artist of Chinese ancestry. Chang earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego in 1994. She showed her first solo exhibition at Jack Tilton Gallery, New York, in 1999. Her body of work focused on how people can be deceived, either through sight—what one sees is not necessarily true—or through mainstream assumptions about such topics as Asia, sexuality, and socially accepted behavior. Chang attributed her past stint in a cybersex company as the catalyst for exploring illusion as a theme. She realized that video flattened three-dimensional, live performances into a stream of two-dimensional images, enabling her to engage in visual deception.

Most of Chang’s early works investigated problems of gender and sexuality, using her own body and elements suggesting violence or transgression. The photograph Fountain (1999) depicted her inside a cubicle of a public lavatory, with a urinal visible on the far wall. Wearing a business suit, she knelt on hands and knees, seemingly kissing herself but actually slurping water off a mirror on the floor. The accompanying video focused on Chang’s face and her passionate interaction with her own reflection. While the photograph suggested female humiliation in a male world, the video complicated matters by implying that the act was motivated by narcissism....

Article

Britta Erickson

(b Beijing, Dec 6, 1966).

Chinese performance, video and installation artist . Song studied painting at Capital Normal University, Beijing (1985–9), after which he was a middle school art teacher, until his exhibition schedule grew too demanding. Like his wife Yin Xiuzhen , Song abandoned painting in favour of installation and performance art soon after graduating. In 1994 his first exhibition of works in these media was shut down after half an hour.

A consistent theme in Song’s oeuvre has been the fleeting nature of existence and the negligible trace an individual leaves in the world. As a metaphorical expression of this theme, from 1995 he wrote diary entries on a stone slab using a brush dipped in water as an ongoing performance, Writing Diary with Water. For Printing on Water (1996), he stamped the Lhasa River repeatedly with a stamp carved with the Chinese character for water. Neither action left a permanent mark, despite the energy invested in them. One of his best-known works, ...

Article

Britta Erickson

(b Beijing, Oct 7, 1971).

Chinese photographer, video artist and film maker . He studied in the oil painting department of the China Academy of Fine Arts, Hangzhou from 1991 until graduation in 1995. In 1993, for his performance piece Elsewhere, he did not speak for three months. Returning to live in Beijing (1995–7), he studied film for two weeks at the Beijing Film School (1996), and wrote his first film script for An Estranged Paradise (filmed 1997; completed 2002). In 1998 he moved to Shanghai, and began participating in exhibitions in 1999.

The mises-en-scène and careful compositions of Yang’s photographs exhibit the influence of his rigorous education as an oil painter. Lighting and colour—or the lack thereof—contribute significantly to the tenor of each work. Yang’s ability to control the framing, not just of photographic images but also of moving images, in his videos and films sets him apart from other Chinese video artists....

Article

Michelle Yun

(b Ithaca, NY, 1966).

American multimedia artist. A second generation Korean–American, Joo grew up in Minneapolis, MN, and studied briefly at Wesleyan University as a biology major. He took a two-year sabbatical to work at a seed science firm in Austria and subsequently received his BFA from Washington University, St. Louis, MO. In 1989, Joo went on to receive an MFA in sculpture from the Yale School of Art, in New Haven, CT, in 1991, after which he moved to New York.

Joo’s diverse body of work includes sculpture, video, installations and works on paper that deal with issues relating to cultural identity, the body and the relationship between science and art. His projects overlap thematically and formally as part of an ongoing series. Joo has variously implemented a wide range of materials, including monosodium glutamate, salt, taxidermy animals and even his own body, to explore the transformative moment that signals a change of state between matter and energy. Through this exchange, Joo seeks to illuminate the slippages in meaning of the subject within a prescribed cultural context. Time often functions as a cyclical and multilayered catalyst for transformation, exemplified best through his video installations such as ...

Article

Korean, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active in the USA.

Born 1957, in Taegu.

Installation artist, sculptor, performance artist, video artist.

Kim Soo-ja settled in New York. She uses Korean cloth in her work, which she folds, crumples or hangs; for her the fabric has symbolic weight, one tied to the culture of her country. The cloth becomes a metaphorical relation with her body. Rolled in a bundle to form a ...

Article

Sook-Kyung Lee

One of the characteristics of Korean contemporary art is a continuous effort in employing and interpreting international art practices and discourses. Art movements from Europe and North America in particular, including Abstract Expressionism, Art informel, Minimalism, Conceptual art and Post-modernism, have influenced many Korean artists’ styles and ideas since the 1950s, providing formal and conceptual grounds for critical understandings and further experiments. Whilst some artists who maintained traditional art forms such as ink painting and calligraphy exercised modernist styles and abstract forms largely within the norms and conventions of traditional genres, a large group of artists proactively adapted to Western styles, employing new materials and techniques as well as the notions of avant-garde and experimentalism (see fig.).

A major critique of the reception of Western art and aesthetics came from ‘Minjung art’ (People’s Art) in the 1980s as part of instigating a nationalist and politically charged art strategy. Several art historians and critics who emerged in the 1990s also expanded the scope of the debate with postcolonial and pluralist points of view. The shift in social, economic and political environments played an important role in changing sensibilities in art, along with the advances of technology and new media in the 2000s. The high degree of diversity and sophistication of Korean art in terms of media and subject matters became widely acknowledged within and outside the nation, and an increasing number of artists started to work on the cutting edge of international art....

Article

Japanese, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active in New York.

Born 1967, in Tokyo.

Sculptor, photographer, video artist.

Mariko Mori first studied fashion design in Japan before working as a model during the late 1980s. She then went on to study in London at the Byam Shaw School of Art and Chelsea College of Art and Design in London. In ...

Article

Catherine M. Grant

revised by Jennifer Way

(b Tokyo, Feb 21, 1967).

Japanese photographer, video artist, performance artist, sculptor, installation artist and painter. Mori studied fashion at the Bunka Fashion Institute in Tokyo from 1986 to 1988 and worked part-time as a model before moving to London to study at the Shaw School of Art (1988–9) and the Chelsea College of Art (1989–92), where she earned a BFA. In New York she participated in the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art (1992–3). In 1994 Mori returned to Tokyo and began making large digital photographs and videos in which she appears as a ‘shaman, mermaid, cyber-geisha and visitor from the future’ (Johnson, p. 56). Subsequently, she assembled teams of stylists, photographers, computer imagists, sound technicians and fabricators along with musicians and scientists to create immersive multimedia installations consisting of digital photography, music, video, cinematic spatial effects, abstract biomorphic sculptural forms, paintings and scent, engaging users and responding to data and environmental stimuli. She exhibited her art in biennale exhibitions throughout the world, for example, in Singapore, Venice, Shanghai, Sydney, Kwangju, Istanbul and Lyon. From ...

Article

Reena Jana

(b Tokyo, Feb 10, 1968).

Vietnamese video artist of Japanese birth, active also in the USA. Nguyen-Hatsushiba was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a Vietnamese father. He moved to the USA to study at the Art Institute of Chicago and then at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore. His work concentrates on the issues of Vietnam’s national identity and history, particularly in the context of the Vietnam War (1955–75). A recurring theme is the experience of Vietnamese refugees, known as ‘boat people’, who were displaced by the war and sought to escape from their native Vietnam after the conflict ceased in hand-made boats.

To evoke Vietnam’s long coastline, as well as South-east Asia’s numerous river basins, Nguyen-Hatsushiba filmed his non-linear narratives underwater. His video productions are accompanied by dynamic soundtracks, often composed by Nguyen-Hatsushiba in conjunction with musicians, such as the Vietnamese pop star Quoc Bao. Nguyen-Hatsushiba is best known for his three-part series, ...

Article

Reiko Tomii

(b Tokyo, May 1965).

Japanese conceptual artist who has used photography, video, painting, sculpture, installation and performance. He received degrees in oil painting (1989) and mural painting (1991) from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. Ozawa belongs to the so-called subculture generation of Japan; those immersed in manga and anime in their childhood. Like his contemporaries (such as Takashi Murakami (b 1962) and Makoto Aida (b 1965)), he freely borrowed from both traditional and modern cultures to critique the institutions of art, life and society, while humorously exploiting everyday culture, such as Jizō (Sk: Kshitigarbha; a popular Buddhist deity of salvation), soy sauce and milk-bottle receptacles.

For his first major project Jizoing, begun in 1988, he photographed a small handmade figurine, or a rudimentary drawing of Jizō, at some 80 places in Japan, as well as China, Tibet, Korea, Moscow, Tehran and New York over a period of more than 10 years. The photographs, monochromatically printed and tinted in pale blue to invoke a time of twilight, were compiled into a book (...

Article

Britta Erickson

(b Hangzhou, Nov 6, 1957).

Chinese painter, performance, installation and video artist . Zhang studied in the oil painting department of the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts, Hangzhou from 1981 to 1984, graduating with a bachelor's degree. With other recent graduates he formed the Youth Creative Society (1984), which organized the New Space ’85 exhibition of avant-garde art in Hangzhou (1985). In May 1986, with other Youth Creative Society members, Zhang Peili, Geng Jianyi (b 1962), Wang Qiang, Song Ling and Bao Jianfei formed the Pool Society, which created two of the earliest post-Cultural Revolution outdoor installation and performance works (Work No. 1—Yang’s Taiji Series (1986) and Work No. 2—Walkers in a Green Space (1986)).

Zhang’s paintings of the mid-1980s are coolly analytical works, rendered with a limited palette. Emotionally detached, they represent musical instruments; (figures posed in the artificially frozen steps of such activities as playing an instrument); or surgical gloves, a motif introduced following a hepatitis epidemic ...

Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1966, in Beijing.

Performance artist, installation artist, video artist.

Shortly after his 1989 graduation from the fine arts department at Capital Normal University, Beijing, Song Dong embarked upon a series of intrinsically ephemeral activities and performances for which his own body, his own breath, and water served as artistic materials. In Breathing (1996), Song lay prone for 40 minutes at Tiananmen Square and at a frozen lake called Back Sea, noting his ability or failure to effect change at the two Beijing locations. For Water Writing Diary (since 1995), Song has ritually recorded his daily impressions with brush and water, his private thoughts lost to evaporation. With Stamping the Water (1996), Song repeatedly plunged a seal carved with the character for water into the Lhasa River in Tibet, demonstrating the futility of marking the natural world. Because of his limited financial means and his conceptual approach to art, Song’s works from the 1990s have been linked with what the Chinese critic Gao Minglu calls ‘apartment art’. Though Song’s works questioned the ability of an individual to leave lasting material traces, their photographic and video documentation have allowed these performances to reach a larger, international public through exhibitions and installations. Since ...

Article

Britta Erickson

(b Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, Nov 27, 1961).

Chinese installation artist. Lin studied art at Capital Normal University, Beijing in 1984. In 1987 she and her husband, the video artist Wang Gongxin (b 1960), moved to New York where, in 1989, she took courses at the Art Students League. In 1995 they returned to Beijing, where the dearth of venues receptive to mixed-media installation art led the couple to stage exhibitions in their home. Lin became one of the most notable Chinese artists creating mixed-media installation art, then a fledgling format in China. In 2001 Lin and Wang established China’s first public venue dedicated to new media art, Loft New Media Art Center, in Beijing.

1995 marked a breakthrough for Lin when she began working with white cotton thread. Her first major work in this signature material, The Proliferation of Thread-Winding (1995; for illustration see 1998 exh. cat.) was exhibited in her home. Lin’s best-known early work, ...

Article

Midori Yoshimoto

(b Tokyo, April 5, 1967).

Japanese sculptor, installation and video artist . Torimitsu received a BFA in sculpture at Tama Art University (1994) and, soon after her university graduation, she completed Miyata Jiro, a life-size robot of a stereotypical Japanese businessman, and made it crawl on the pavements of various districts in Tokyo. Perhaps because of its candid critique of Japanese corporate culture, businessmen in Marunouchi district pretended not to look at the robot, while it attracted large crowds elsewhere. In order to study varying reactions to her robot in different social settings, Torimitsu moved to New York in 1996, to participate in the P.S.1 International Program. For the American premier of Miyata Jiro that year, on Wall Street and near the Rockefeller Center, Torimitsu dressed as a nurse to redirect the robot’s movement or recharge its battery. Her New York performances were so well received that Torimitsu subsequently acquired opportunities to do the same in Amsterdam, Graz, London, Paris, Rio de Janeiro and Sydney....

Article

Joan Kee

Hong Kong-based interdisciplinary group of artists . Derived from a compound of the words video and montage, Videotage was founded in 1985 by artists May Fung (b 1952; see fig. ), Ellen Pau (b 1961; see fig. ), Wong Chi Fai and Comyn Mo to facilitate local collaborative art projects. Prior to its formation, the Phoenix Cine Club was Hong Kong’s main outlet for film-based art, especially works based on Super-8 film in the 1970s. Artists, however, began the transition to video when the commercial demand for Super-8 film diminished and home video was concurrently introduced into the consumer market. Initially, Videotage sponsored screenings of videos in the facilities of the local theatre collective, Zuni Icosahedrone. As a result, some artists such as May Fung, Ellen Pau and Comyn Mo began to explore intersections between theatre and video-based installations ( see fig. ).

Videotage later modified its purpose by fostering the study and production of multiple kinds of media-based art forms. From ...

Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1958, in Chengdu, Sichuan.

Painter, performance artist. Conceptual art, installations, video.

Wang Jianwei studied at the Chengdu Painting Academy from 1983 and received an M.A. from the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts in 1987. He lives and works in Beijing. He paints people moving in space and bathed in an atmosphere close to that of dream symbolism. He has been a member of the Beijing Painting Academy since ...

Article

Andrew Cross

English sculptors, video artists and performance artists. John Wood (b Hong Kong, 18 June 1969) and Paul Harrison (b Wolverhampton, 30 November 1966) both graduated as painters from Bath College of Higher Education and began working together in 1993. Their collaborative video works involve both artists performing bizarre but very simple actions. While referencing the early videos and performances of Bruce Nauman or Charles Ray, the humour and irony of their work is more reminiscent of British television comedy of the 1960s and 1970s. In 3 legged (1996; see D. Batchelor and C. Esche) the two protagonists are seen tied together at the ankle and confined within a simple wooden shelter while an automatic tennis server shoots balls at them; the two tussle in idiotic fashion while trying to avoid each ball. All their collaborative works examine their intimate physical collaboration or their relationship to a particular physical environment. ...