太平天國 / Taiping Tianguo, A History of Possible Encounters at NUS Museum, Singapore

Ai Weiwei, Frog King Kwok, Tehching Hsieh, Martin Wong

Sep 08 – Nov 03, 2013

Para Site proudly presents 太平天國/Taiping Tianguo, A History of Possible Encounters. Ai Weiwei, Frog King Kwok, Tehching Hsieh, and Martin Wong in New York at NUS Museum, Singapore. Running until 3 November 2013, Taiping Tianguo explores actual and concrete, as well as tenuous or even possibly non-existing connections between four artists in New York in the heady years of 1980s and the early 1990s. 

Between these four artists, certain connections are documented or remembered. For instance, Hsieh appears in Ai’s photographs from this time; Kwok provided critical assistance for Hsieh for some of the latter’s legendary “One Year Performances”; and Kwok met Wong and Ai at the KWOK Gallery, the space he ran in Soho. For all four artists, New York in the 1980s and early 1990s represented a time-space, which was filled with freedom and possibilities that incubated their artistic visions and imaginations. This exhibition ventures to propose an alternative narrative to those that disregard these artists’ personal connections in favor of city, nation-specific or formalist histories. It suggests a casual community, a network of acquaintances, and an underground economy. By doing so, it hopes to contribute to a critical reading of this period—the first decade of contemporary Chinese art and the prelude to the era of globalized contemporary art.

太平天國/Taiping Tianguo, A History of Possible Encounters was first shown at Para Site. Hong Kong (May – August 2012) and subsequently in an expanded and contextualized version at SALT Beyoğlu, Istanbul (May – August 2013). The exhibition is conceived as an evolving discourse as it travels from one venue to the next. The Singapore presentation also reflects these changes of perspective as the exhibition's questions are introduced into a cultural space charged with debates about diasporic identity and  complex connections with the Chinese cultural sphere. At the NUS Museum, Taiping Tianguo provides an attempt in locating the contemporary to plural potentials of history. From “Chinese contemporary art” to “contemporary Chinese art”, the emphasis has shifted from the articulation of a Chinese difference within the global production of contemporary art to the proposition of a Chinese art that is contemporaneous to a global present.

Taiping Tianguo is co-organized by Para Site, Hong Kong and the curatorial initiative A Future Museum for China. The current iteration of the exhibition is co-organized by Para Site, Hong Kong and NUS Museum and is presented by The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation.

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Installation view

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Installation view

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Presented by

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Tehching Hsieh, Elements from ONE YEAR PERFORMANCE 19821 - 1982

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Installation view