Magician Space is honored to present “Fruit Cell”, an art project by Chinese artist Yu Bogong this summer.
In the mid-1990s, Yu Bogong arrived at the Yuanmingyuan artist village in Beijing. Yuanmingyuan, as a gathering place for avant-garde artists, directly contributed to the development of Chinese contemporary art during a time when such art had yet to be legalized. Yu Bogong’s short period of creative activity while there resulted in the artist becoming a representative of “Gaudy Art”. But whether participating in the official art system or later in the newly formed art industry, Yu Bogong has always kept a cautious distance from the dual mechanism of official art and the art market. Constantly seeking to step out of the institutionalized system and avoid being bound by established frameworks, the artist’s guerilla on-site practice works through art education and social engagement.
Fruit Cell revisits the scenes of the artistic activity of Yu Bogong in Inner Mongolia, Quanzhou and other places in recent years, and it is also a continuously occurring and expanding on-site project. The exhibition includes video recordings, drawing notes, and new site-speci c installations from the artist’s field practice, Mobile Academy, undertaken throughout China from 2017 to 2019. The abstract lines and brushstrokes in the series of Drawing Notes (2016-2019) are derived from the imagination of Yu Bogong as he was doing fieldwork. Their self-inherent logic and appeal at the perceptual level are extremely personal, conveying how practice and the shared experience establish a mechanism of imagination and communication in Yu Bogong’s work. This “mechanism” is not a closed system: it cannot be reproduced, but is instead an action and method of continuous movement.
The Drawing Notes also include Yu Bogong’s real life observations in the field, as well as musings arising from nomadic living. Just like the installation work Skeleton of Lantern (2019), Yu Bogong activates the plainest of materials and their accompanying language – bamboo strips, rice paper, cotton thread, clay – to present a sensual object wrapped in an alienated external structure. Form and structure point to a most basic return: that of the perceived experience and subjectivity of the object.
The structure of the tent installation Building Reconciliation (2019) in the exhibition hall is derived from the prototypes of the Mongolian yurt, and Central Asian and Native American tent types. It is also Yu Bogong’s construction project in the Xilamuren Grassland in Inner Mongolia, and the temporary structure set up in various places for the Mobile Academy project. During the exhibition period, Yu Bogong will transform the exhibition space into an undifferentiated site through holding bi-weekly “Open Classroom” workshops. An ongoing classroom for non-art professionals is Yu Bogong’s response to the art industry mechanism and prevailing exhibition models. In this sense, “Fruit Cell” is more like an artistic practice of decentralization for him. It seems to be a return to art for Yu Bogong, but in fact he has already embarked on a journey in search of a road to a place of belonging.