Harmonious Society, Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, Manchester

A key strand of Asia Triennial Manchester 2014, Harmonious Society is a major exhibition of new commissions and UK premieres featuring over 30 major artists from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Exhibited across six key spaces in Manchester, the project curated by the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art is on view until 23 November.

Responding to the ATM14 theme of Conflict and Compassion, CFCCA’s curatorial team has focused on the current socio-economic vision presented by the government of mainland China, which seemingly presents ‘no conflict’ but rather, almost poetically, a Harmonious Society. Simultaneously, artists from Hong Kong and Taiwan reflect on their own socio-political situations, and the work also looks into this era as an increasingly destabilising and challenging period, as well as the transformations in terms of space, identity and communication which have already taken place in the Far East throughout the early years of the 21st century.

Artists from Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China have been invited to show work for the first time in the UK or to create new commissions which respond to this unprecedented social, ideological and cultural transformation through their individual memories, personal reflections and imaginations.

New arts production hub and major venue for the project, ArtWork showcases a specially created site-specific kinetic commission from Zhang Peili. The piece consists of a towering installation of six un-identifiable flags waving in unison, sweeping the concrete floors of the warehouse exhibition space gently as they sway. The venue also hosts Wang Sishun’s large-scale bronze column that seems to defy the laws of gravity, and Zhou Xiaohu’s immersive walk-through tunnel installation, filled with sandbags and screens showing footage of current conflicts.

Alongside the CFCCA and ArtWork, the Museum of Science & Industry presents the UK premiere of Chen Chieh-Jen’s major new 4 screen video work, Realm of Reverberations (2014), which looks at the cause célèbre caused by the deconstruction of Losheng Sanitarium, the first medical institution for leprosy patients in Taiwan. Similarly scientific, Luxury Logico will present a piece which combines computer technology and recycled Manchester lamps to create a mesmerising artificial sun, aiming to convey the optimism reflected by recycling and a high-tech future.

Visitors to the National Football Museum are greeted by Yang Zhenzhong’s magnificent sculptural piece, Long Live the Great Union (2011). Zhenzhong plays with the idea of the Tinanmen Square sculpture and its various copies which appear across China, by deconstructing the familiar architectural body of Tiananmen into nine pieces – the separate components scattered in a seemingly disorderly manner. Only through one viewpoint can this complex mass be ‘reassembled’ visually into a whole ‘harmonious’ image.

Other venues involved in the project include the unique locations of The John Rylands Library and Manchester Cathedral.

With a combination of new works and UK premieres on view throughout the city of Manchester, the CFCCA’s mission to extend knowledge on Chinese contemporary art within the context of the ‘Chinese Century’ and the global shift east, is readily explored in this dynamic, collective series of exhibitions.

Harmonious Society, until 23 November, CFCCA, ArtWork, The John Rylands Library, Manchester Cathedral, Museum of Science & Industry and National Football Museum, Manchester.

For further details on the CFCCA’s Harmonious Society, visit www.cfcca.org.uk/atm2014.

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1. Jin Feng, Chinese Plates (2014). Photograph courtesy and copyright of Tristan Poyser.