February 19th through April 8th, 2012
Artists: Jérôme Bel, Cheng Ran, Guo Hongwei, Hu Xiangqian, Li Qing, Liu Chuang, Mei Yuangui, Wolfgang Tillmans, Fred Tomaselli, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Danh Vo, Yang Fudong, Zhou Haiying.
“Boy: A Contemporary Portrait” juxtaposes recent and commissioned new works by contemporary visual artists with a selection of works of contemporary dance, fashion photography and mid-20th century’s documentary photography, etc.
Boy, as Oxford Dictionary suggests, also refers to “a man, especially a young or relatively young one”. The first decade of the 21st century sees a transforming representation of men in different cultures, media and regions. This exhibition attempts to portray young men of the time and to redefine the manhood within a global context.
Since the early 1990s, celebrated German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans has been exploring—through his photographs and his involvement in publication—the range of gestures and physicality that have become the distinguishing characteristics of young men in visual culture. His wall installation on view comprises of eight representative photographs he made between 2000 and 2010. Through his signature way of display, the set of photographs constitutes a visual fiction in a first-person narrative that reveals the emotional, sensual and intellectual aspects of young men’s life. Intimate and earnest, French choreographer Jérôme Bel’s critically acclaimed “Cédric Andrieux” (2009) provides a choreographed account that portrays a contemporary dancer’s life and career and outlines the relationship between the performer and the dance as a medium.
The exhibition includes a series of male portraits that are multifaceted and conceptual. Beijing-based Liu Chuang’s “Buying Everything On You” (2007) assembles all the possessions he acquired from a passer-by, which are laid out on a plinth in a way reminiscent of taxonomical or criminal research. Danh Vo, a Vietnamese-born conceptual artist produced specifically for the show a gilded Bud Light beer packaging (“Bud Lite”, 2012) and makes it a metaphor for the experience of being a young man in the consumer culture. “Faith” (2006) a double-channel video installation commissioned for Liverpool Biennale 2006, continues the award-winning Thai filmmaker and video artist Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s experiment in visualizing a man’s innermost world. “Faith is a tender portrait of lost love and transformation. Surrounded by perpetual change and the fear of new memories replacing old, a man dreams for an eternal place, where the image of his loved ones can live on,” the artist comments. In his commissioned new work, Hangzhou-based video artist Cheng Ran filmed a lone man driving a car donned in flowers on a night journey. The piece references Derek Jarman’s film “Blue” and his diary “Modern Nature”, and pays homage to the late British filmmaker.