Wastelands is a contemporary Chinese art exhibition of installation, painting, sculpture and film presenting the works of eight artists who all have links to China. The exhibition explores the idea of ‘waste’ as a result of consumption through different landscapes and materials. Ranging from the ‘aesthetic debris’ in the work of Cai Yuan’s cardboard paintings installation to Cao Fei’s film ‘Haze and Fog’, a surreal and abject portrait of an excessively self-consuming Beijing in the form of a zombie movie. Featuring established artists such as the hugely significant figure of Ai Weiwei alongside artists with long-standing practices in the UK, it engages in themes around issues of neo-liberal ideologies, consumption, development and economies of culture.
“Ai Wei Wei became widely known in Britain after his sunflower seeds installation in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in 2010. This was the first major institutional survey of his work ever held in the UK and bridged over two decades in his extraordinary career. Curated in collaboration with Ai Weiwei from his studio in Beijing, the RA presented some of his most important works from the time he returned to China from the US in 1993 right up to the present day. Among new works created specifically for the RA, there was a number of large scale installations, as well as works showcasing everything from marble to steel to tea ans glass. With typical boldness, the chosen works explored a multitude of challenging themes, drawing on his own experience to comment on creative freedom, censorship and human rights, as well as examining contemporary Chinese art and society.”
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