Slide / Show: Light images in Chinese Contemporary Art
UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing
UCCA and Institute pour la photographie des Hauts-de-France, Lille, present “Slide / Show: Light Images in Chinese Contemporary Art,” an exhibition bringing together artworks and archival materials to propose a new genealogy of the slide and its legacy in the foundational years of Chinese contemporary art.
Featuring both artworks and archival materials, the exhibition explores how slides, and their activated state of light images, played an influential role in the emergence of Chinese contemporary art in the 1980s, shaping creative strategies that would form a sometimes underappreciated aspect of artists’ practices for decades to come.
Participating artists include Geng Jianyi (1962-2017), Li Yongbin (b. 1963, Beijing), Liang Juhui (1959-2006), Lin Jiahua (b. 1953, Xiamen), Lin Tianmiao (b. 1961, Taiyuan), Song Dong (b, 1966, Beijing), Wang Gongxin (b. 1960, Beijing), Wang Wei (b. 1972, Beijing), Wang Youshen (b. 1964, Beijing), Zhang Peili (b. 1957, Hangzhou), and Zhu Jia (b. 1963, Beijing). Archival materials on display in “Slide / Show” are graciously provided by critic and curator Fei Dawei and artist and educator Zheng Shengtian.
The exhibition is organized thematically around concepts linked to key formal characteristics of the slide medium: “Transmission,” “Refraction,” and “Transparency.” These sections explore how slides and slideshows became central to an expanding landscape of international artistic exchange in China; how artists of the ’85 New Wave drew upon screenings and mechanisms of information transmission to create pioneering artworks; and how this artistic legacy of light images may provide an alternative perspective from which to approach later works more commonly viewed through other frameworks.
Today, the significance of slides and slideshows within the history of Chinese contemporary art is obscured, and the scarcity of images that led to slides’ proliferation in the 1980s is hard to imagine within the hyper-abundant visual culture of contemporary China. By returning to this medium, which educated and shaped the practices of some of China’s leading experimental artists, “Slide / Show” offers a new perspective on the early years of Chinese contemporary art. Directly and indirectly, slides and projection continue to shape artistic discourses in the country, and the questions that light images first sparked in the minds of artists four decades ago—questions about how we see, learn, and communicate—remain bracingly relevant.
Co-produced by UCCA Center for Contemporary Art and Institut pour la photographie des Hauts-de-France, Lille, “Slide / Show” is curated by UCCA Curator Holly Roussell. Following this presentation in Beijing, the exhibition will travel to Lille in 2025.