Brilliant City brings together sound and video art from China and the UK to explore the changing nature of urban environments in both countries.
Produced when China was preparing for the Beijing Olympics a time that saw huge infrastructure projects rising across the country, Brilliant City focuses on three decades of development in China, globalisation and urbanisation. The nature of the city and its association with modernity was a defining theme of early 20th-century art and architecture and many of those ideas and aspirations are now once again being played out in the large construction projects taking place across the whole of China, sending shockwaves throughout both the rural and urban population as their lives and communities are uprooted in the long march towards modernisation.
An effort to represent and to critique, deftly weaving the past with the present, through the city’s history as well as its neighbourhoods. Monumental ruins, meticulously rising developments and as with Walter Benjamins Passagen a montage of reflections on, fashion, dream city, advertising and theory of progress.
The central preoccupation with the commodification of public and private space. China’s ever-increasing drive towards a market-driven economy, and the rapid growth of the service and industrial sectors of the economy, where large numbers of the rural population venture to these new ‘metropolises’ in search of a better life, most of them to become part of an ever-growing urban underclass. Here the scenes captured, highways are vacant and streets empty of people, a modern terrain empty save for the buildings themselves that take dominance over anything more human scale.
Emerging artists collaborating on the project (8gg, Actop, B6, Michael FAULKNER + Matthias KISPERT], Ariane GEIL, Haus M Commune, LIN Zhiying, Davide QUAYOLA, Barney STEEL, Axel Stockburger , THOM Chin, WAN G Geezer, XU Cheng, ZHONG Minjie, Zip Design) were invited to explore these themes, working with either video and/or sound, responding to questions concerning urban architecture, economic and social change as well as our personal relations to the urban environment.
During 2006 contributing artist Zhong Minjie was invited to visit the UK to contribute to the research and development of the project in Liverpool and London. Similarly, Beijing artists 8GG were invited to CineCity Brighton 2006 to present and debate on the themes explored in the work along with curator Keith Whittle and contributing artists, following which they joined an International Artist in Residence programme with space/social space. The artistic network established during the research and development stage built a strong network of international contributing artists, thorough research methodology and outreach programme between the UK and China.
The exhibition toured to Kinetica Art Fair, London, MIC Toi Rerehiko, Auckland, New Dis-Locate Festival, Tokyo + Yokohama, Japan, CineCity Festival Brighton, UK, MU Eindhoven, Netherland, UK Arts Festival, Chongqing, China, Lovebytes Festival, Sheffield, UK and AV Festival, UK.
Supported by Arts Council England, British Council, /sLab + Visiting Arts