LEAP 15 out now
Cover feature: Art as Diplomacy
Despite art’s potential to create a conceptual space for freedom, community, and dialogue, the convergence of contemporary art narratives and transnational politicking remains in an increasingly utilitarian space. After posing a historical survey of Chinese cultural policy and the fluctuating relationship between contemporary art practice and the Party-state, this issue’s cover package goes on to offer first-hand accounts of seminal moments from those histories: Meredith Palmer reflects on the first major introduction of modern American art in China in 1981, Geremie Barmé tosses a “literary hand-grenade” at the elitist cultural phenomenon that were the “foreign salons” in Beijing of the mid to late 1980s, and Xing Danwen gazes back upon the flowering Chinese art and culture scene of the 1990s through a photo essay of her own work.
June’s middle section is otherwise flush with artist features. Pauline J. Yao gleans the unusual from the everyday stances of Lee Kit, Sun Dongdong delves into painting’s innerness via the still lifes of Qin Qi, Yang Beichen attempts to spell out the relation between Lyotard and Ran Huang, and Yipeng seeks the divided and the undivided in Shen Wei‘s treatment of the human body. Finally, Cheng Ran visually dictates a “silent conversation” in his old apartment for the issue’s fashion spread.
The top of LEAP 15 finds its meat in a collaborative project at Rockbund Art Museum by Michael Lin; rumination on the diffusive brushwork of Guo Hongwei; an interview with industrial photographer Hilla Becher; an introduction of the ambiguous collective GUEST; and furtive glances at Eddie Peake, Pamela Rosenkranz, Alex Israel, Sharon Hayes, and Harm van den Dorpel; as well as efficient two-page tours of burgeoning art hubs Dubai, Sharjah, and Hong Kong.
June’s reviews of the showings of late spring starts with long takes of Atsuko Tanaka and the 7th Berlin Biennale from Vivian Ziherl and Kito Nedo, respectively, and continues with considerations of Moataz Nasr, Gilbert & George, Cheng Ran, Li Shurui, He An, Keren Cytter, and Yuan Goang-Ming, alongside group exhibitions in Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei, and Guangzhou.
Excerpts from this issue
“The notion of Chineseness—especially when framed in the picture planes of Political Pop, which could harmlessly espouse Soviet aesthetics as well as iconic red imagery—would have equated a friendly compromise between content and form well enough to garner official tolerance…”
–Einar Engström (A Functional Instrument: Culture as Power)
“If artistically his hand-painted cloths represent the ability to debauch the rarefied status of the art object, then politically they come to stand for a certain attitude towards life that finds emancipation in the small details and cracks of everyday life.”
–Pauline J. Yao (Lee Kit: A Slice of Life)
“The figural is distinct from the figure, it is a formless impression, the realization of a disfigurement, unable to be articulated or uttered and forever existing in flux.”
–Yang Beichen (Ran Huang: The Transgressive Possibilities of the Figural)
“The lack of ‘immanence’ in the act of creation itself and the visual description of another has allowed portraiture to become a highly symbolized shell.”
–Tang Lingjie (Review: Face)
“‘Sight’ itself is not often posed as an issue worth exploration or experimentation. Perhaps this is because, up against swarms of conceptual and surreal texts, the idea seems basic or elemental. But if it is underestimated or ignored, then where do the internal dynamics of art come from?”
–Sun Dongdong (Review: Light Bending onto the Retina | La Chambre Claire)
“Meaning is not decided by previous events, and time is not awarded the essence of truth by the hand of these events either. Our survival is pulled from times of redemption, from history.”
–Su Wei (Review: Keren Cytter: Anxiety as An Artistic Tool)
If you’d like to pick up a copy of the magazine in person, or just say hello to the LEAP team, please stop by our booth at Art Basel from June 14–17.
Office: LEAP, China View Tower 1 Suite 1106, No. A2 Gongti Dong Lu, Chaoyang, Beijing 100027 / email@example.com