15 May 2009
18 Jul 2009



The Exhibition

UCCA presents Shen Yuan: Urgent words, a poetic installation displaying two recently important works, a ‘landscape’ made of combs, and more than eighty small cloth tongues blown by hair driers. These two works, both connected with ‘’hair’’ and the related daily objects open another vision of a dialog between cultures which is central in the work of Shen Yuan, who has emigrated to France about 20 years ago.

UCCA is proud to show Urgent words for the first time anywhere in the world, Shen Yuan develops a physical dimension in her work with this huge hair brush that functions as a Totem gathering several cultures, just like what we are aiming at doing here at UCCA’ said UCCA Director Jerome Sans.

A giant comb is exhibited in UCCA middle hall. Above the comb, are tangled various kinds of hairstyles made of Asian, African, western hair. This idea comes from everyday life, when we comb our hair, some stay on the comb and resemble head, mini model of hairstyle or growing plants. Artist imagines them as a gathering crowd, or as a forest. Aside, the huge hairdryer blows makes these multitude of tongues flying over, muted by the sound of the device.

After she left China in 1990, Shen Yuan made the cultural splits caused by migration a departure point for her future art development, including a new language and identity, as elements of survival in foreign land.

Urgent words as become as such because they always seem not to be apprehensible, and are unable to catch other’s attention. The hair dryer sends out noise, thus is deafening. Here, Shen Yuan intends to show how language looses itself into the work; she invites the audience to experience ‘urgent words’ after deviating topic, losing and changing meanings. Analyses Guo Xioayan, exhibition’s curator.


The Artist

Shen Yuan was born in Xianyou, Fujian Province, in 1959. She graduated from Zhejiang Fine Art College in 1982. Her works took part in the China Avant garde exhibition in National Art Museum of China in 1989; then she moved to Paris. Recognised, as one of the major artist in contemporary Chinese art, she as a female artist, she creates works that never lacks a kind of tolerance spirit and exquisite skill; in the meantime, her works have very delicate and supple feeling, vitally related with daily life. She said that, she hope to reveal the latent language in the objects, to transform abiosis into life, the corruptible into the magic, and usefulness into uselessness. She always adopts tactfully a variety of tunes and various languages in her works: battle cries, murmurs; and their improvisation and frankness make audiences suspect, marvel and joy. Shen Yuan said, artist’s responsibility is to give object information; if her wish is to give the non life objects their own tongues, it is to bestow them a communication ability of using existing, diverse and oral or writing language.

The main line in Shen Yuan’s works always is concerning about transference, memory and language – the voice of recollection, her own words, breathing and special feeling hide behind them. Meanwhile, she expresses the singleness and limitation of language. Her famous work, Waste Your Breath, 1994, is a complicated work, make of a few huge and blood-read ice tongues, which are put on the hall post of exhibition building. As they slowly melted, ‘saliva’ dropped into a metal basin underneath. During the exhibition it little by little revealed to the audience a sharp kitchen knife behind ice tongues. This work shows that when tongue is bestowed an active and a complicated function, its violence usually exceeds consumedly a fist.

Shen Yuan  Hurried Words, 2008
Shen Yuan  Hurried Words, 2008
General information

Ullens Center for Contemporary Art

798 Art District,No.4 Jiuxianqiao Lu,

P.O. Box 8503, Chaoyang District, Beijing P.R.China 100015

Tel: +86 10 8459 9269

Fax: +86 10 6431 4867

Web: http://www.ucca.org.cn


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