November 21 until December 12, 1999
On 21 November 1999 the exhibition Food for Thought: Chinese Contemporary Art opened its doors in De Witte Dame (White Lady) in Eindhoven. 'Food for Thought' is a multimedia exhibition that presents the newest and recent developments on contemporary art in China and abroad. Video, paintings, photography, installations, CD-ROM's and Internet sites are presented on different floors in De Witte Dame. The exhibition shows the mental, spiritual and intellectual 'food' of artists most of time driven by the process of fast modernisation.
The famous computer artist Feng Mengbo shows his CD-ROM installation 'Taking Mt. Doom by Strategy' (1998) on 'Food for Thought'. On this CD-ROM he takes traditional images from the Beijing opera ‘Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy’ and combines them with the western video game ‘Doom’. It’s a game in which speed, mobility, and sound, all trademarks of video games, play an important part.
Special attention needs several young artists like Shi Qing, Shi Yong and Xu Zhen. Shi Qing shows his latest CD-ROM called 'The Art of Suicide: Family Suicide Brochure' (1999). The CD-ROM is an ironical statement. Through pictures on the CD-ROM people can choose many roads to suicide. For example, somebody can die because of a nervous breakdown after forcing oneself read philosophical texts in foreign languages on a daily basis.
Shi Yong presents his latest Internet site titled 'Made for You' (1999). The underlying concept of his Internet art is based on canvassing people’s opinions. The purpose behind this is to illuminate the ‘supply and demand’ game that according to Shi Yong also applies to the international art world
Xu Zhen shows his video installation 'From Inside the Body' (1999). He and his girlfriend take off their tops sitting on a couch and sniff at each other in an attempt to localise an
undefinable smell they have become aware of. With the sniffing Xu Zhen refers to the irrepressible curiosity people often have about other people.
Xu Zhen was one of the initiators of the exhibition 'Art For Sale' in Shanghai (1999). During 'Food for Thought' visitors can take a look at the video of this interesting exposition in a Chinese supermarket.
Feng Zhengjie paints the complexities young people in China have to deal with today. The dream wedding is one of the extravagances popular among the ‘New Rich’ (Dakuan) of China. Especially a wedding western style (long white dress with veil for the woman) is sought after. In his series ‘Romantic Trip’ (1999) Feng Zhengjie combines tradition and modernity by depicting couples alternately in traditional Chinese wedding clothes and western costume. The setting is an artificial dream world with soap bubbles surrounding the happy couples. But the bubbles symbolising the dream are fragile and easily punctured. Real life is different. Many Chinese cannot afford great luxury. Although there are a lot of marriages in China, the divorce rate is high.
The graffiti artist Zhang Dali presents his art works in De Witte Dame and he will pop over to The Netherlands to give a performance in an old demolished building at the Technical University in Eindhoven. Zhang Dali’s profile spray-painted, graffiti-style, onto the sides of buildings is by now a frequent icon in Beijing.
Zhang Dali’s dialogue is a statement about the consequences of rapid modernisation.
And ex avant-garde artist Ni Haifeng, one of the founders of the artists group called '70% Red, 25% Black, 5% White' will create a 'site specific' work about humanity versus nature in the central exhibition space of MU.
'Food for Thought' is one of the programs of the manifestation 'Chinese Characters', that will be held in celebration of the 50 years existence of the People's Republic China. Food for Thought is a co-production of The Royal Tropical Institute (Tropical Theatre), cultural agency Borneoco, Canvas Foundation in Amsterdam and Mu Art Foundation/ Arctic
Ni Haifeng, Ellen Pau, Xu Tan, Xu Zhen, Shi Yong, Zhang Peili, Feng Mengbo, Shi Qing, An Hong, Yin Xiuzhen, Lin Tianmao, Feng Zhengjie, Qui Zhijie, Hu Xiangdong