Fiction Art is a term for artists using literary fiction to engage in the practice of contemporary art. It is not a school of thought, but a name for an artistic phenomenon. This includes three scenarios. First is where the “fiction” written by the artist is itself a contemporary art creation (reducing the visual aspect to the bare minimum) that asks the viewer to use their own imagination to construct a visual world. The second is the “fiction” as an organic component of contemporary art which comes together with other forms of expression to construct an artwork mixing sound, vision and imagination. The third is the “fiction” as a text that is at once connected to and independent of the visual image. These three scenarios are sometimes intertwined in the artists’ creations.
We have invited ten artists, Cao Shu, Chen Tong, Duan Jianyu, Feng Feng, Jiang Zhi, Jin Shan, Pu Yingwei, Qin Jin, Shi Zhenhao and Yang Yuanyuan, who all have experience writing “fiction,” and have all brought “fiction” into their artistic practice. We are attempting to explore the thinking behind the artist’s use of “fiction” as a form in their artistic practice. Why do they use a fictional world constructed of words to realize their contemporary art creations? What is the relationship between the literary “fiction” and the visual image? We will then probe the question of what “fiction art” truly is for.
Most of the works featured in this exhibition are new (such as Duan Jianyu's Secret Garden, Jin Shan's Three of the Possessed, Pu Yingwei's Dusk Memories–Returning Home, Qin Jin's Invisible Man and Shi Zhenhao's The Lover); some are further developments of earlier ideas, including new constructs and expressions (Cao Shu's Corner of the Park:Prologue, Chen Tong's National Highway 319, Feng Feng's There’s a Girl Named Paris, and Jiang Zhi's The Sorrow of a Word); and one work was completed in the past, and will be further developed by the artist in the future (Yang Yuanyuan's Where Lines of Sight Intersect). These artists have unique understandings of the role of “fiction” in artistic practice. Just as everyone has a different interpretation and imagination of the same thing, the relationship between fiction and art shifts with the ideas of each artist, and possesses infinite possibilities.
Fiction Art is like a labyrinth of words and visual images, weaving between the visible and the imagined. It demands a certain level of patience from the viewer, the patience to immerse themselves in the text, and to view the images with fascination, taking in every little detail so that they can find Ariadne’s thread, penetrate the mysteries of the labyrinth, and make their way out. In this light, Fiction Art is also an anti-spectacle, anti-rapid consumption exhibition, one which demands a “slow pace” that is out of step with the times. And if you ask what fiction art is for? Beyond the new possibilities provided by the linguistic explorations of artists, and the inspiration we derive from the artists’ consideration and responses to various questions, reflections on our time that run “against the current” are equally important.
Fang Lihua, Li Rongwei and Gong Linlin
May 10, 2018