Whitebox Art Center and Asian American Arts Centre present
China: June 4, 1989
The 25th Anniversary Exhibition in Commemoration of Tiananmen Square
Opening Celebration Sunday, June 1st | 11-6pm
Exhibition on view June 1st – 10th 2014
Vito Acconci | Luis Cruz Azaceta | Betty Beaumont
Luis Camnitzer | Mel Chin | Agnes Denes | Lotus Do
John Duff Leon Golub | Billy Harlem | Edgar Heap of Birds
Ava Hsueh | Kunio Izuka | Ik Joong Kang | Donald Lipski
Liliana Porter | Rumiko Tsuda | Daniel Georges | Dolly Unithan
Martin Wong | Sofia Zezmer | Zhang Hongtu
New York City – In collaboration with Whitebox Art Center, Asian American Arts Centre presents China: June 4, 1989, an exhibition on the lower level exhibition space of this non-profit institution. The exhibition features works from artists that were part of the original 1989-90 exhibition, in commemoration of the events at Tiananmen Square. Alongside these works, there will be a wall of clippings displaying news articles and mementos for those who want to learn exactly what happened – many in Chinese.
The original exhibition, which accumulated over 300 artists at Blum Helman Warehouse in SoHo, then later at PS 1 in Long Island City, eventually encompassed 174 standing panels (doors) linked to form a freestanding expandable wall. Over 80 small works were also on display. Artworks represented artists from Argentina, Sweden, Britain, Italy, France, Greece, Japan, and Korea. Each piece reflects the artist’s response to this social crisis from their own artistic and cultural stance, articulating peoples’ outcries in vivid multimedia formats. Multiple perspectives are gathered, reflecting a diverse response to expanding political horrors.
Curator Robert Lee states ”As the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student massacre approaches, the erasure from history of this incident in China seems complete. For the peoples of every other nation in the world, however, the Tiananmen Square Massacre remains an open question. As a political question, censorship throughout China and the demands of Chinese citizens, like the Tiananmen Mothers, awaits recognition by China. As a human question, the tragedy and premeditation of this incident is incalculable, impacting China as well as the world. The humanity of the students was clear, and their murder by authorities an incalculable outrage. Yes, they shot the students. A horror magnified a thousand times by the media for the watching world. It focused and transformed the clash of Chinese political destinies into a televised drama of global proportions, imprinting itself on the human imaginary in epic dimensions. Never before was such violence turned into a spectacle, with weeks to prepare a global viewership, for the unspeakable to become suddenly reality.”
This exhibition serves to recognize this human tragedy, this global trauma, a human spectacle of incalculable proportions, buried and awaiting resurrection. The reverberations are still echoing throughout the world, in the hearts of the people who were there, concretely and vicariously; they watched and saw. Their grief and outrage and humanity are brought to the forefront here, with this exhibition acting as an archive for Tiananmen Square. In addition to the media event this moment became, these artworks depict the public response and feeling that was felt around the world. While creating work from a place of empathy, each also needed to evoke the gravity of the event. Although the styles and media vary, the overall goals of the artists are unified: to do Tiananmen Square justice as well as offering a space for commemoration.
In conjunction with the exhibition, there will be a special screening of “Portraits of Loss and the Quest for Justice”, a documentary provided by Human Rights for China that consists of footage shot by the Tiananmen Mothers – a group of family members of those killed during the violent crackdown of the 1989 Democracy Movement. The documentary will be on view during the opening and closing receptions, at which time light refreshments will be available.
AAAC and Whitebox Art Center welcome student groups, educators and the general public to the exhibition space in their visit to the Lower East Side.
Curated by Robert Lee
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