The most remarkable thing in Xu Qu’s art practice was how he confronts and shows the circulations of different value systems with calm attitude. These value systems are sometimes of economics, sometimes ethics, or geological politics. These things often carry with them a sense of cruelty, while appearing with an aesthetic of detachment.
Doctrine is the second solo-exhibition of Xu at the Antenna Space. The exhibition transformed the venue into a topological space of the history of spirit and history. For the artist, the knowledge that art provides show through via a perceptive force, yet this perceptive knowledge reflects the conditions of the production of knowledge. In this exhibition, Xu Qu investigates the means by which knowledge ponders the relationship between ignorance and perception.
The exhibition is comprised of 7 series of works. The painting installation I Ching sets up a framework of space and time for the exhibition, whose imagery came from the front and back covers of a translated version of “I Ching” published in late 19th century Europe. Evident in the processes of appropriating and constructing ideologies from Chinese and Western cultures in the early Taiping Heavenly Kingdom movement, it is then possible to observe that the Chinese and Western cultures have been learning from each other, as well as their intertextuality and non-dissolvable state. Balcony assembled abandoned statues of Buddha and wooden arms into a series of installations, whose structure resembles the cured meat dried at the balconies in southern China during Spring Festival. Two different kinds of traditional texts: the aesthetics of secularized customs of traditional festivals and traditional religious statues merged forcefully into the same collage of space. “The emphasis of the potential circulations of cause and effect in our secular life could also happen in the entirely secularized art system.”
The video work Ignorance also considers traditional religion as a conscious question. It involves our understanding of knowledge as well as the potential conflicts of book as a medium of knowledge transmission in other non-modern categories of knowledge. In this video work, the artist uses his hands to repetitively rub the paper printed books. The artist attempted to pose the question: Instead of seeing through our eyes, are there any other means to receive countless information? Meanwhile, it relates to the emphasis on the senses except from sight in traditional religions and criticizes the misuse of this principal. The two other works on show Zhang Qing’an (one of the 10 fanatics to revive monarchy after 1949) and Scopophilia focus on the observation of contemporary power mechanisms, the former emphasized the generational illusions of social classes, the so-called “distance between experience and experiment”, while the latter is a camera installation which comprises of 108 second hand cameras and resembles a bracelet. This was inspired by the artist’s observation of a camera functionary at the police system.