chinese contemporary art

New York Exhibitions>>

19 May - 21 June 2007
Texts are the Legacy of Great Thought!
Manifesto of the Communist Party New Edition Publication Art Project

Chinese Contemporary New York is pleased to announce the first ever solo exhibition of works by Huang Rui in the USA. Huang Rui has created an installation work specifically for his American debut called "Texts are the Legacy of Great Thought!"

The installation is a re-presentation of the Chinese version of Marx and Engel's Communist Manifesto. The iron typeset for the thirty-nine pages of the Manifesto make up the installation. Each page of typeset is beautifully encased in a wooden box, emphasizing that this presentation is literally a work of art. In addition, Huang Rui has printed on parchment 100 copies of the manifesto from the Chinese typeset, each in their own stainless steel case accompanied by an English translation. One set of the printed Manifesto is framed and forms part of the installation.

Huang Rui will distribute to all present at the opening of the exhibition a limited edition of booklets containing two texts about his installation, one by himself and one by the Director of Beijing's Goethe Institute, Michael Kahn Ackermann. The English version of the Manifesto will also be available.

The text by Ackermann explains the essence and critical importance of Huang Rui's installation, not only for the Chinese, not even for communists but for all who have seen and may see again the outcome of extremist regimes worldwide. This manifesto, which was so influential and in whose name so much was justified, is returned to its original form - a text.

Ackermann says:

"...Huang Rui's intention of freeing the Manifesto from the caked blood of its historical effects, thus changing it back into a text, is a simple yet necessary step. Just as necessary as shutting a book at the end of a story."

Huang Rui is one of the most important and most censored artists in China today. He was one of the founding members and a driving intellectual and activist force behind China's first ever avant garde group of artists - the Stars. He left China in 1984 and returned in 1992 hoping for greater freedom however under government pressure he left again in 1994. Only in 2001 was he allowed to return a second time to China with relative freedom. In April 2006 Chinese Contemporary's Beijing gallery opened his first solo exhibition in China that was not closed by the authorities even though it was censored by the Department of Culture.

Huang Rui's work is a comment on the political and social actuality of China today. As such he has to cloak his work in the language of conceptual art. The independent curator and writer Shu Yan has said about Huang Rui and his art:

"As an artist, Huang Rui cannot avoid politics. In fact he takes political content and runs with it. In politically sensitive China, this kind of activity requires great daring few possess…The genius of Huang Rui's art lays in its overt usage of political elements, managing them succinctly and to penetrating effect…This kind of ability requires remarkable wisdom and acuity on the part of the artist, as well as broadmindedness and bravery."


Critical praise of Huang Rui’s work:

"This is my impression of Huang Rui: a leading figure who can acutely grasp the actuality of a situation, an avant garde artist who can hold fast to his own ideals."

- Feng Boyi, independent curator

"In Huang Rui's case, text is an environment that shapes our political outlook on a daily basis. His job is to position text to solicit reflection and provide viewers with elements of debate.
"Huang Rui has always focussed on the essence of Mao, his ideas, the propaganda he implemented, and thus his texts and slogans."

- Berenice Angremy, independent curator & writer

"Huang Rui has interrogated a China which he sees as increasingly capitalized and divergent from the ideal form of practice. Directly confronting reality, his art reveals a world of alienation and attempts some form of transaction. It swaps reality for the discourse of art, thus obtaining an emphasis on real appearances. His artist's practice instills in us the courage necessary for transformation."

- Youichi Maki, Assistant Professor, Saitama University, Japan

"Huang Rui's most notable art works have in common a critique of autocratic control of discourse. This kind of discourse was once unassailable truth in his lifetime and was immensely influential in our society for quite some time."

- Shu Yang, independent curator & writer

" ...Huang Rui's intention of freeing the Manifesto from the caked blood of its historical effects, thus changing it back into a text, is a simple yet necessary step. Just as necessary as shutting a book at the end of a story.
“On March 7 2007, the Chinese National People's Congress passed a law on the protection of private property."

- Michael Kahn-Ackermann, Director of the Goethe Institute, China

You may also learn more about Huang Rui on our Beijing website under the "artists" section.