Intermediary: A Peek At Chinese Video Art
Video art from China showcasing a short clip in the Carlsten Art Gallery. Photo by Nomin Erdenebileg

Intermediary: A Peek At Chinese Video Art

When walking through an art gallery, most visitors expect to witness paintings, sculptures or drawings and would be surprised to find videos and digital images being displayed instead of these classic art forms.

Breaking this generalization, Intermediary is a showcase of video art from China and is being displayed in the Edna Carlsten Art Gallery on campus.

Seven different artists are featured in this showcase: Ma Qiusha, Li Binyuan, Li Ming, Lin Ke, Miao Ying, Ye Funa and Zhang Xinjun. Each of their individual video pieces seem to represent the constant social and economic changes that people living in China go through every day.

Video art from China showcasing funky nail art in the Carlsten Art Gallery. Photo by Nomin Erdenebileg

Video art from China showcasing funky nail art in the Carlsten Art Gallery. Photo by Nomin Erdenebileg

Another interesting aspect that the exhibit touches upon is the fast paced advancements in technology across the globe, and in China specifically. These particular artists have been able to expand their creative outlets by making these pieces of video art.

Ellen Larson, guest curator at the University of Pittsburgh, said, “Their increased access to technology and new forms of digital communication provide them with tools to document their own realities, while at the same time establishing their independent voices and identities within an increasingly pluralistic space.”

All of the videos vary in content but seem to fall into two distinct categories: the  everyday world and the fantasy world.

“Intermediary exists at the intersection between social reality and fantasy, exploring the many strategies contemporary Chinese video artists use to navigate their way through the mundane, chaotic and often uncontrollable situations that characterize contemporary Chinese Society,” said Larson.

A particularly beautiful piece called “Freedom Farming,” by Binyuan focuses on the hard and physical labor that some in China face every day.

In this piece, Binyuan gains ownership of farmland his father left him after his father’s death. Binyuan depicts his own laborious work and struggles through showing his personal experience of physically throwing his body into the farmland for two hours straight to level out the soil.

A workshop led by a guest artist Ye Funa on nail art. Photo by Nomin Erdenebileg

A workshop led by a guest artist Ye Funa on nail art. Photo by Nomin Erdenebileg

One of the fantasy pieces, “Nailhenge: A Small Victory,” created by Funa requires the use of a computer and bulky headphones.

The video takes the audience on a fictional journey where a group of tourists find Pandora’s box. When opened, displays of intricately colored fingernails are depicted as a Stonehenge-like monument.

All of the realistic pieces of video art are located on the right side of the Carlston while switching over to the fantasy portion of this video collection is located on the left.

In order to enjoy most of these video art creations, wooden benches have been placed in front of each screen for viewing purposes. A cluster of bean bag chairs has also been arranged so visitors can relax and enjoy the showings in comfort.

Each video seems to create a different emotional response from viewers. This unique style of art is not an event that anyone should miss out on experiencing, and also gives people a more personal, realistic glimpse into Chinese culture.

The Carlsten, located on the second floor of the Noel Fine Arts Center, will be running the exhibit until March 5.

Larson said, “The exhibition offers snapshots of interior and exterior realities and emotional states, real and imagined environments, as well as actual and virtual spaces, all constructed during a time of tremendous social and physical change.”


Lhea Owens

Arts and Entertainment Editor

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