East Contemporary

MadeIn Company “Turbulent”

MadeIn 没顶公司Company: Turbulent
April 27th to May 26th, 11:00-16:00
MadeIn Company Exhibition Space 1F, Bldg 8 , 18 Wuwei Road, Shanghai, PRC

MadeIn is an artist collective initiated by Xu Zhen. It poses as an ‘art factory’, a brand, behind which a group of artists are working on projects. The “Turbulent” exhibition consisted of three work types.

Most of the walls have been covered by black and white ‘action spray paintings’. These are white canvases, with cone-shaped marks, the cone-shape originating in the direction of the spray leaving a spray can. The black spray flow was directed in parallel to the canvas and not in the usual perpendicular way. The small to mid-size paintings cover the wall one next to the other in multiple rows, like a mosaique, which maybe a reference to the way paintings have been presented in galleries and salons in the beginning of the last century. At the same time the black and white colors could be seen as a reference to Malevich’s iconic black square on a white surface. In MadeIn’s work, the black square has disintegrated into a multitude of shapes, created at random in an ‘everything goes’ postmodern attitude. The paintings are still composed and follow rules of symmetry, but it is the medium of the spray can which co-directs the result. The painting is not forced into a shape by a stencil or brush, but is allowed to flow in a shape inherent to the medium itself. Herein lies the link to action painting. As in Pollock, where the drips of paint were the ‘inherent’ form that was coming out of the can, here the cone shapes are the inherent forms coming out of the spray can nozzle. The imaginary journey starting from suprematism and continuing in expressionism can then be continued towards the MadeIn-specific context of anonymous mass production, expressed through the sheer abundance of canvases, where an idea is repeated over and over again, like in a factory.

In between the canvases, two photographs are hung. One depicts a screaming man next to an empty fridge. And another one depicts a ‘flag’ made out of plywood. I like the narrative aspect of the ‘fridge photo’ – on a neutral background, the two depicted objects are entering in a relation with each other, offering an imaginary space for different stories or interpretations that can be dreamt up by the viewer. The photo of the flag from plywood would be more interesting as an object than a photo. The reproduction of sculptures on photos as in this case seems to be a ‘shortcut’ to circumvent the problem of materiality instead of dealing with it. As a sculpture, the flag could have had a stronger impact.

In the centre of the exhibition space, two photo-objects are placed. A staged photo has been printed out, mounted on a board and placed into space again. It became a simulation of what it is depicting. Depending on the angle one is looking from, the simulation can give a realistic or an awkward impression. The flatness and instant gratification of the work is representative on its lack of meaning, creating a similarly empty feeling like the oversized smiling faces on city billboards.

The additional ‘food for thought’ in this exhibition comes from relating the meaning of the artworks to the ‘meaning’ of the concept behind MadeIn. As an anonymous group of artists, it is difficult to apply the ‘empathic’ way of relating to the artist’s feeling or convictions. Instead one is left with a product, where the best one can do is to place it in a relation towards a set of references. The meaning becomes a constructed, impersonal meaning. This was probably the aim behind the MadeIn brand. Indeed, MadeIn does have some ‘corporate identity’, and I think it can be traced back to Xu Zhen himself who is probably still there to give art direction and define the strategy of the MadeIn brand. Is this the future of art? Or the present? Can it be ‘original’ or is it just ‘interesting’?


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