Searching for Keywords
by Xu Tan
November 28, 2007-January 26, 2008
opening reception November 28 6-8pm
L O C A T I O N \_ O N E
26 Greene Street (betw. Grand & Canal)
Gallery Hours: Tues-Sat 12-6pm
Xu Tan’s work deals with the hidden motivations and intentions of individuals through a high-tech analysis of their vocabulary. Searching with Keywords is the New York leg of an ongoing project which the artist launched in 2005. The starting block is a series of interviews of different groups of people who are active in Chinese society. The interviews were then carefully analyzed, and Xu Tan has identified 100 keywords based on meaning (social values), frequency (repetition), sensitivity (political), and popularity (trendyness). These Keywords reveal much about the values and motivations of contemporary Chinese society, they give a pulse of the current social climate, and present an insight into the collective social consciousness of China.
The project will be unfolding simultaneously in Beijing, China, in Sittard, Holland, and in New York, through a website created specifically for this happening. Gallery audiences in New York will be invited to interact with the keywords, which are presented by means of four video projections and four computer stations equipped with laptops, video cameras, and Internet connections. Their reactions and input will be immediately transmitted through the website to the other venues where the installation is present.
While the artist is present in the gallery he will also conduct interviews of different people and the analysis of these interviews will in turn generate other keywords that will help reveal the opinions and attitudes of a western audience towards the current status of China and its role in the global environment.
Xu Tan was born in Wuhan, Hubei Province in 1957 and currently lives in Shanghai and Guangzhou. In the early 1990s he joined the “Big Tail Elephant Group” in Guangzhou with Lin Yinlin, Chen Shaoxiong and Liang Juhui. The aim of this group is to develop critical strategies for negotiating the rapidly changing economic and cultural life in China. He was among the first artists to participate in Location One’s International Residency Program in 2002, and his work has been shown around the world including P.S.1 in New York, Biennale di Venezia, Berlin Biennial, Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in Brisbane, Australia, Guangzhou Triennial, Taipei Biennial, De Appel in Amsterdam. Recent solo shows were held at the DAAD Gallery in Berlin, at the Vitamin Creative Space in Guangzhou, at BizArt is Shanghai.