Photos from http://www.cornerhouse.org/art/
We decided to go to the Cornerhouse, even if it was just to grab a post-work beer and ended up in the exhibition "State Legacy" presenting previously unseen works by five prominent contemporary Chinese artists. Although my knowledge about China and its history is nearly nil, the radiance of Zeng Li's photographs were so strong it evoked a deep feeling of discomfort as well as admiration for the artist's talent in photographic composition. His series of photographs entitled The Shuicheng Iron and Steel Works, detailing an abandoned factory that had remained hidden amongst mountains during the cold-war. I could feel the harshness and mercilessness of the derelict looking vast whole landscapes of factories, which were badly cared for, treated as badly as the workers within them; I could feel the dirty toxic fumes enter every capillary of my lung which made me shiver.
The other one that stood out for me personally (and wasn't as discomforting) was Sui Jianguo’s Raising Speed on the Railway, a multi-screened projection of a high-speed train as it travels around a circular testing track. We only noticed this clever train element as were were about to leave the exhibition, thinking merely street scenes were being shown.
Throughout the exhibition we were thinking about a friend who left last week to live in China for a year. We were imagining the lanky, blond, tall Tom who had never even been outside Europe, looking onto a sea of little black heads beneath him -like in the image above drawn by Tom himself? I felt nervous for him. He will be in a "small" town near Beijing, still with a population of 6 million, teaching English. He's a graphic designer who has been working for a almost year since graduating and is also a graphic novel/comic artist. I am intrigued what inspiration this experience will provide him with but also anxious how he will cope (with the isolation of an expat, especially in China).
Illustration by Thomas Plaskitt from http://www.newthink.co.uk/
Afterwards, we watched Werner Herzog's "Encounters at the End of the World" which was released in 2007, as the Cornerhouse does not only show new films. Check out the trailer above! The colours and imagery is inspirational and gave me goosebumps all over. Uniquely beautiful nature and person shots, and a Herzog's commentary adds a dry element of humour. According to one of the interviewed people, these individuals are there because none of the are tied down on this planet, so the all fall down, fall to the most south part of the world- nice thought.
Also, do you know what sounds seals make under water?? They do not sound like they come from any animal in this world, more like synthesizers or lasers!