hG commission: Shi Yong’s “Super Angel”

banner image

On November 8, 2003 Chinese artist held the premiere performance of Super Angel (2003) at San Diego State University. The piece was completed during residency at the haudenschild GarageSuper Angel was produced in collaboration with Tina Yapelli of the University Art Gallery and the students of San Diego State University. He invited people to be part of the development of his website and performance by participating in a conversation with him through his interactive website. Click here to visit his Super Angel website.

Hou Hanru gave the keynote lecture, Chinese Artists (Digitally) Facing the Globalizing World, prior to the performance.

Shi Yong was an Artist-In-Residence from October 22 – November 12, 2003  at the haudenschildGarage and was invited as part of the exhibition Zooming into Focus: Contemporary Chinese Photography & Video from the Haudenschild Collection. He was responsible for designing the Zooming into Focus catalog and the installation design of Zooming into Focus at the National Art Museum of China, Beijing.

About Shi Yong

Shi Yong’s work embraces modernization and the ideology of consumerism as the basis for self-imagination and creation. He has produced a series of photo-based works around the concept of the ideal Shanghai citizen. It is an ongoing multifaceted project that explores images of consumption, commodity and the development of the culture industry. One series, entitled “Made in China – Welcome to China” (1999), consists of hand-painted plaster models of a young businessman in a Mao suit, sunglasses, briefcase and waving. The image of the ideal citizen used for the statue was the outcome of an Internet project through which Shi Yong asked volunteers to vote for the ideal way of looking. The individual now transforms the identity of his or her self by following the logic of commodity market surveys. It is a composite image that Shi Yong has repeatedly used in other pieces such as “Longing For” (2000) and “You Cannot Clone It, But You Can Buy It” (2001). The iconic figure is morphed through the agency of the marketplace.

Recently, Shi Yong has focused his attention on large-scale installations and architectural models imbued with an absurd twist of humor. Most notably, his mixed media installation “Flying Q” is of a UFO built with the purpose of opening up the sky. The flying object comes with no additional explanation, but might be recognized as just another signature vision of and interventions into the imaginary world of Shi Yong. His subversive approach pokes fun at architecture based on rules and pre-established schemas. Shi Yong fabricates a colorful and ironic architectural structure that is at once a parody of serious design and its synthesis. In short, his work is an amalgam of Shanghai’s eclectic ‘anything goes’ attitude towards the built environment.

Shi Yong was born in Shanghai in 1963. He graduated from Light Industrial School, Fine Art Department. He resides and works in Shanghai. Shi Yong has exhibited widely since the early 1990’s. Recent shows include Follow Me!, Mori Art Museum (Tokyo, 2005), Second Guangzhou Triennale, Guangsong Museum of Art (2005), Zooming into Focus, China National Art Museum (Beijing, 2005), Felicidad Indecible, Tamayo Museum of Contemporary Art (Mexico, 2005), The Heaven, The World, ShanghART & H-Space (Shanghai, 2004), Shanghai Biennale (2002), Bienal de Sao Paulo (2002) and Bienal de Maia (1999). (ShanghART; Shanghai, China)

“Recently, nearly in one year, the idea of my work has been mainly concerned with the “public image” which exists in the medium of space. Exactly, opposite to the western medium, the “Public Image” is ironical. It reflects another cultural reality in the dialogue and interchange between the western and the non-western: the so-called multiculturalism defined by the western culture seemingly tells you that the line between the ethnocentric culture and the marginal culture is being eliminated. At the same time, the name of “discrepancy” a new taxonomy of cultures is placing you cleverly in a special symbolic window display for the purpose of distinguishing. Then, you are forced to come back to the marginal position one more time. The difference is only that the previous line with the air of the colonialism is now replaced by that of the post colonialism. Therefore, in the cultural reality controlled factually by the western power, the so-called non-western character who is redifferentiated and redifined has to take the “Public Image” in line with the defined standard as an effective and safe extrance. In that case, you can keep a “legitimate” position in the stage of so-called ethnocentric culture. This is the reason why I take the “Public Image” as the subject of my works.” – Shi Yong