Wang Bin Torture in Commercial Quality, High Quality, and Museum Quality :: March 13 -April 6, 2010 :: Opening: March 20; 7:00 - 10:00 pm :: Open Source Gallery, 255 17th Street, Brooklyn, NY.
Ondrej Brody (CZ) & Kristofer Paetau’s (FIN) work, Painting China Now (2007), is the starting point for their new work on display at Open Source Gallery. Painting China Now is a collection of 30 oil paintings depicting violence inflicted by the Chinese government on Falun Dafa members. The paintings were rendered with varying degrees of realism by Chinese craftsmen* specializing in copying pictures sent via e-mail. These pictures, censored and forbidden in China, were painted with oil on canvas in China and then exported to Europe for exhibition display.
For their first Brooklyn exhibition at Open Source Gallery: Wang Bin Torture in Commercial Quality, High Quality, and Museum Quality, the artists chose an explicit photograph of the massacred torso of Falun Dafa member Wang Bin**. Although the original photograph is unsharp, there is no doubt about what it is depicting. Using the Chinese painting companies’ own product quality grade system, Brody & Paetau commissioned the image to be painted in three grades: Commercial Quality, High Quality and Museum Quality. To compound the political with the aesthetic, these will be shown side by side, as a triptych.
What at the first glance appears as cynical artistic exploitation can also be seen as a shock of realities revealed through a conceptual artistic process. On one hand, most civilized countries condemn torture and censorship, on the other, they are eager to profit from Chinas’ cheap production forces and ruthless commercialism. The marketing of art in ‘Commercial Quality, High Quality, and Museum Quality’ is alien to general gallery practice as the artistic and monetary value of a painting is usually not relative to labor time or technical skill.
*This company and its details will be not named at their own request for fear of reprisals.
** Wang Bin, born on August 2, 1956, was a computer software engineer at the Institute of Exploration and Development in the Daqing Petroleum Field. He had received science and technology awards on many occasions, and for three sessions in a row, he had been a representative of the employee’s assembly at the institute.
Open Source is a participant-driven art initiative in Brooklyn, NY that provides space, community and conceptual context for creative play and critical commentary.