Universes in Universe

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Interview with Hou Hanru

By Binder & Haupt, Universes in Universe

Universes in Universe: At the press conference, you said that "typical" for Chinese art now is its diversity, are Chinese artists very individualistic today?

Hou Hanru: In the past many people thought, Chinese art should have just one "face", one typical image. In reality, the artists now are working in very individual ways. Maybe they are facing a common background, or sharing a specific context, but in the meantime they have developed different answers. The artists in this show, come from very very different images, perceptions, angles of observation. They explore the fantasies they are having about themselves, their own personalities. They work based on different languages and media. That all makes the whole scene very diverse. Of course you have different kinds of artists, but this project is articulated on the more mature, more established minds, the more intellectually integrate personalities, rather than showing only fashionable or trendy things. So the artists in this show are at first, individual creators.

UiU: You also said that you register an anxiety among the artists to be at the front of the newest media developments. Is that something that you have come across because it interests you personally, or is it a reality?

HH: Of course it is a reality interesting to me, but it is definitely "the" reality happening now in the art worlds.

UiU: Is it difficult for the artists to get access to the technical equipment?

HH: No, I guess it is somehow even easier than here. In the cities, computer technologies are everywhere. You can buy very cheap equipment. It could be as expensive, but you can get all sorts of cheap programs, you can easily have your own video studio. I think the new technology, globally, is a very interesting invention. It allows people from very different contexts to think of new possibilities of making art. For example, digital cameras are very popular these days and with digital technologies you can solve a lot of things by yourself. Personally I think there is another important aspect to this, which is the alternative economy around the computer industry, that means the distribution of "pirate" copies of films, CDs, programs, etc, that allow people from poorer areas in the world to access the technological resources.

UiU: Mr. Schuster said at the press conference that we shouldn't expect to find Harald Szeemans "Chinese" artists in the show. Is that an interpretation of him or is that an explicit statement of the curators?

HH: I think it is more his interpretation. Of course we have some artists, that have been at the Venice Biennale, but the curatorial angles are completely different. Once again, we articulate on this individual connection with the reality, rather than with that cliché picture that Szeeman brought up in his project.


© Binder & Haupt, Universes in Universe, September 2001.

Living in Time
29 Contemporary Artists from China

19 September 2001 -
6 January 2002

Hamburger Bahnhof,
Museum für Gegenwart - Berlin


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