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Li Ming's The Afternoon on June 1
A Screening with Howie Chen


Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 7-8pm
Asia Art Archive in America
43 Remsen Street (Ground floor entrance)
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Seating is limited. Please click here
 to RSVP.

“I was wondering at the moment, what would happen today? I wasn’t feeling anything yet. Would I feel anything later?”, wonders the narrator in the opening scene of Li Ming’s The Afternoon on June 1 (2013).

Mercurial shifts in performer roles and relationships unfold in Li’s video in which the artist and his friends (Yang Junling and Lin Ke) make an ad hoc video featuring an older unemployed actress who they encounter in front of the Beijing Film Studio. Filmed in a nearby park where abandoned nuclear plants and ancient pagodas dot the horizon, the video shows the subjects acting out unscripted scenes, loosely based on a narrative of an incestuous relationship between a mother and her sons.

What begins in the register of a puerile prank evolves into a complex play of fiction and reality, as these elements soon become indistinguishable to the viewer and the subjects in the video. Each scene begins to parallel different realities for the performers. For example, the actress’s real life relationship with her son, which is revealed later in the video, perversely mirrors the physical interaction between the young men and her character. A surprising reversal in power dynamics happens late in the video as the cast trespasses on the site of an abandoned nuclear silo. The emboldened actress takes the camera and reveals artist Li as a visible performer, no longer the detached director and eye. In this transition, the young men show their vulnerability when they confront the actress’s true fearless abandon.

– Howie Chen, from The Poplar Tree and Mirror catalogue, 2014

 

Li Ming (b.1986, Hunan, China) lives and works in Beijing and Hangzhou, China. He is a member of artist collectives Double Fly Art Center and COMPANY, and a former member of GUEST. His works have been shown at institutions such as Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston; Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, East Lansing; Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing; China Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum, Beijing; Iberia Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing; Himalayas Art Museum, Shanghai; Today Art Museum, Beijing; among others. Li holds a BFA from the New Media Art Department at China Academy of Fine Arts, Hangzhou.

Howie Chen is a New York–based curator involved in collaborative art production and research. Chen is a founder of Dispatch, a curatorial production office and project space founded in New York City, later transitioning to a peripatetic exhibition model. His past curatorial experience includes organizing exhibitions and programs at the Whitney Museum of American Art and MoMA P.S.1 among other international institutions. He is currently teaching critical theory at the New York University Steinhardt School and Parsons The New School for Design, and is a research affiliate at MIT. Chen recently curated The Poplar Tree and Mirror, an exhibition of video works by Chinese contemporary artists selected from the research archives of Video Bureau, a not-for-profit organization established in 2012 in Beijing and Guangzhou, at the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP).

Image credit: Li Ming, The Afternoon on June 1 (still), 2013. Single channel HD video, color, sound, 38'47". Courtesy of the artist.

Copyright © 2014 Asia Art Archive in America, All rights reserved.

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