Do You Think That You Can Help Her Brother?
February 11th, 2017 through April 23rd, 2017
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA)
111 Sturt Street, Southbank VIC 3006, Australia
He An’s neon light installation, Do You Think You Can Help Her Brother?, will be presented on the northern façade of ACCA’s iconic architecture as a keynote public project for Asia TOPA, comprised of Chinese characters gleaned from shopfronts and various sites throughout the city of Beijing, telling a dark story about love, desire and power in.
Drawn from popular news stories and online social media, Do You Think You Can Help Her Brother? combines found texts to create a narrative poem that relays the experience of marginalized labour workers, popular Chinese novels, the sex industry and criminal underground networks in Chinese society.
The work is made up of several large and colourful neon Chinese characters. Each has been ‘found’, and while stylistically unique, together they create a poem that makes visible the risk to women in these male-dominated networks.
“He An has a long interest in language, literature and the urban environment. One of a number of light works he has made in the last fifteen years, Do You Think That You Can Help Her Brother? is a transgressive and poetic work referencing the shifting changes in style of the neon signage that punctuates Beijing’s cityscape and the impact of social media on relaying stories and shaping behaviour,” says curator Hannah Mathews.
‘Inspired by the city lights and tenebrous urban narratives of Beijing, He An’s breathtaking installation creates a form of urban poetry from retrieved heritage signage which is swiftly disappearing from the skyline due to the rapid transformation of Beijing’s urban environment’, says ACCA’s Artistic Director and CEO Max Delany.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born in 1971 in Wuhan, Hubei, China, He An lives and works in Beijing and is part of an emerging generation of artists born after China’s Cultural Revolution who are making work in the midst of an enormous industrial expansion and urban transformation. His work largely deals with the physical and psychological atmosphere of China’s growing cities, especially the signs, lights and language that populate the built environment. In 2000, He An started incorporating neon light-box characters—gathered from the ubiquitous signage of fast-growing cities like Shenzhen and Wuhan—into his art. His work was featured in the Shanghai Biennale (2006) and is held in the collection of the White Rabbit Gallery, Sydney.
He An has been widely exhibited in international art institutions, including: “Overpop”, Yuz Museum, Shanghai, China, 2016; “Linguistic Pavilion”, Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai, China, 2016; “New Image—2016 New Media Exhibition & screening”, Chengdu Hong Museum, Chengdu, China, 2016; “A Modern Adventure—The Renault Art Collection”, Today Art Museum, Beijing, Wuhan, China, 2015; “The Exhibition of Annual of Contemporary Art of China”, Minsheng Art Museum, Beijing, China, 2015; “A Modern Adventure—The Renault Art Collection”, Today Art Museum, Beijing, Wuhan, China, 2015; “Post Pop East Meets West”, Saatchi Gallery, London, UK, 2014; “The Garden of Diversion”, Sifang Art Museum, Nanjing, China, 2013; “Writing Without Borders”, Lehmann Maupin Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China, 2013; “2013 Carnegie International”, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, USA, 2013.
The artist’s recent solo exhibitions include: “Redtory”, Guangzhou, China, 2016; “Yuzhi”, HDM Gallery, Hangzhou, 2015; “Armenia”, Tang Contemporary Art Center, Beijing, China, 2015; “Wind Light as a Thief”, Galerie Daniel Templon, Brussels, Belgium, 2014.