ON | OFF 2021: Carousel of Progress


Exhibition ON | OFF 2021: Carousel of Progress is scheduled to open from February 4, 2022 at He Art Museum, exploring the unfinished narrative of Chinese contemporary art in the age of Post-Globalization.

Nine years after ON | OFF exhibited at UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, curator
Sun Dongdong re-examined the continuation and development of this theme in recent years with the sight from 2021. This group exhibition will present the temporality of contemporary China in the eyes of the participating artists. Back in UCCA’s exhibition in 2013, ON | OFF was a theme reflecting the concepts and practices of young Chinese artists in the "Post-Olympic Era", which is now followed by a subtitle and refreshed year, aiming to revisit and to continue the unfinished narrative of the 2013 exhibition, in the midst of the increasingly intense tensions of "integration and decoupling" in the "Post-Globalization Era". The second half of the title is inspired by the Hollywood science-fiction comedy film Back to the Future and the Disney rotating stage performance project Carousel of Progress. It highlights the increasingly clear selfreflexivity of the Chinese contemporary art system in recent years, and the resulting awareness and ability to trace back, in both time and space, to its own emotional memory and historical experience.

Return, repetition and spiral are the emphasized curatorial concepts in this exhibition. It is a poetic comparison of the spatial form of He Art Museum, and on the other hand, through the repetition and superposition of themes and concepts from the works, it also attempts to let the audience sense the rhythm of time and life, global and local, memory and history, thus to reach the cosmic view of the museum's architectural space and the narrative structure of the exhibition.

The works in the exhibition cover a wide range of artistic mediums including painting, sculpture, photography, installation, and video, with different themes related to issues such as media society, natural environment, identity and geographical boundaries. All of them share a spirit of introspection that originates from life: where one comes from and where one goes. Corresponding to the increasingly accelerated globalized environment, this makes art not only a medium for memory preservation, but also a sentient practice of the observing subject to summon historical consciousness that transcends time and space. With echoing, converging, flowing, and crisscrossing of the multiple time-space, ON | OFF 2021: Carousel of Progress presents a debate over time and life, and the answer to this debate, is hidden in the deafening silence of the art space.