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In Memory of Huang Xiaopeng

Oct 08, 2020

It is with profound sadness and the deepest condolences that we learned about the passing of artist Huang Xiaopeng in Berlin on October 7, 2020.

Huang Xiaopeng (born 1960 in Shanxi) was a renowned contemporary artist and art educator. Huang obtained his MA from the Slade School of Fine Art of the University College London in 1992 and was a professor at South China Normal University and a university fellow at Hong Kong Baptist University. He founded the HB Station (Contemporary Art Research Centre) in Guangzhou, and was the head of the fifth studio of Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts between 2003 and 2012. His video and public installation works explore the problem of (mis)translation arising from cultural copy-transformation in the course of modernization; they also look into how we project others in (dis)location, and how such projection relates to the dilemma of globalization. Besides, his works push the relationship between language and everyday images to its limits to challenge the boundaries of meanings and, ultimately, the ‘correctness’ of our daily experiences. 

Huang Xiaopeng

Before his unexpected death, Huang Xiaopeng had been working closely with Times Art Center Berlin to plan for a new collaborative project, entitled FEAR, NO FEAR, to take place from January to May 2021. Initiated by Huang Xiaopeng, co-curated by Dorothee Albrecht, Antje Majewski, and Stefan Rummel, the project intends to present a prism of new perspectives on fear in our current era. It plans to unfold in three chapters and brings together artists of diverse international backgrounds, primarily from Berlin and Guangzhou. 

Huang Xiaopeng’s death is a tragic loss not only for his family, friends, and students but also for his colleagues and the art scene, which have been enormously influenced by him over the past decades.


Hou Hanru, Huang Xiaopeng’s lifelong friend and the artistic director of MAXXI – National Museum of 21st Century Art, wrote the following article in memory of Xiaopeng.

Xiaopeng, K.O.H.D.

Hou Hanru

Unexpectedly, Xiaopeng has – as the title of one of his works K.O.H.D. reads – knocked on Heaven’s door and left us without saying goodbye last night. Words like “shock” and “grief” are not enough to describe our feelings at this moment. We are simply speechless.

Xiaopeng wandered about in the world throughout his entire life, and made himself at home wherever he was despite all odds. From Shantou to Guangzhou, from Hong Kong to London, he eventually almost settled down in Berlin. He had formed a family, but then had to restart from zero. Wherever he was, he was always trying to make a living in a sort of transitional state, to deal with different languages and all sorts of cultural differences, working hard to find a place where he could settle down, while at the same time being in the process of constant translations. It was this eternal seeking that gave him the exciting and elusive inspiration to tackle the most important problem in life, and this problem was art. His favorite line was “Art is a problem”. He concluded that the best way to solve the problem was to translate back and forth between languages, until the original meaning was completely lost, thus allowing the possibility of “fresh new meanings” to emerge. Rock n’ roll music video tapes and Google Translate’s “ability to create” provided him with the best materials and tools. Ultimately, through a post-Duchampian trick, he could “deconstruct these texts, and re-encode the time and space, resulting in mutual redefinition, constant accumulation and extension, so that these different contexts under the independent and unrelated elements collide with each other, and finally expand into the fragments of a whole, ending up being trapped in a language gap and lost in the infinite transmission of meanings. When translations all become political statements, Chinese and Western love songs will completely lose their original meanings in the new context, just like poetry in our age of absurdity.”[1]All of Xiaopeng’s works consisted of transforming “Far East” to “法·伊斯特” (Fa-Yi-Si-Te, the phonetic translation in Chinese and “Far West” to “法·威斯特” (Fa-Wei-Si-Te). In a post-colonial, global and AI-dominated “age of absurdity” that only generates more absurdities, we are eternally doomed in this “contemporary utopia” and are falling into an ever-deeper abyss. And in this abyss, fear of fear has lost its meaning, we can only “climb the mountain together, with each doing his or her best.”[2] Thus, when he was looking for the Chinese title for the exhibition he was curating in Berlin, he came up with “畏無所畏” (Fear No Fear)[3]. I believe that he feared no fear when he unintentionally knocked on Heaven’s door last night. 



Rome, October 7th, 2020, 4 pm.

[1] Huang Xiaopeng, K.O.H.D. (From Far East to Far West), in Hou Hanru and Xi Bei eds., The D-Tale, Video Art from the Pearl River Delta, Times Art Center Berlin, Sternberg Press, 2018, p. 244.

[2] Xiaopeng’s renowned and innovative teaching not only encouraged young artists to practice bravely, but also enabled them to face up to this absurd world freely and to fight to make a living through imagination and creativity.

[3] In my last conversation with Xiaopeng in Wechat (on October 2), he wrote, “The Chinese title of this project, ‘問你驚未’ doesn’t seem to convey the meaning of ‘Fear, No Fear’, isn’t ‘畏無所畏’ better?”


小鵬,敲叩天門

侯瀚如

小鵬昨晚意外地,就像他一件作品的題目所說的,“敲叩天門”,不辭而別。此時我們的心情,用震驚和悲痛來形容,已經不足夠了。無語!

小鵬一世人闖蕩世界,四海為家,歷經滄桑。他從汕頭到廣州,從香港到倫敦,最後幾乎落戶柏林。他成家立業後又重頭再來。無論身在何處,他總是在某種過渡狀態中討生活。他時刻都要面對種種不同語言和語言背後的種種文化差異,在語言的互相翻譯中努力地尋求安身之處。正是這種永遠的索求給予了他回答生命中最重要的問題提供了既令人興奮又飄忽不定的靈感。而這個問題就是藝術。用他鍾愛的說法:藝術是個問題。他斷定,解決問題的最理想的辦法就是把種種語言翻來覆去地傳譯轉換,直到原意盡失,而露出“新意盎然”的可能性。搖滾樂MTV錄像帶和Google Translate 的“創造能力”在這當中給了他最好的素材和工具。最終,玩弄這種“後杜尚“的把戲,可以 “解構這些文本,並對時間和空間重新編碼,使之互相重新定義並不斷積澱延伸。當這些不同語境下獨立而互不相關的元素互相交叉和碰撞時,最後膨脹成一個整體的碎片,最終陷入語言的間隙並迷失在無窮無盡的意義傳遞之中。當所有翻譯都變成政治宣言,中西方情歌在新的語境中完全失去其原來的含義,就像我們這個荒謬時代的詩歌。”[1] 小鵬的所有作品,都是在為這個可以把“遠東Far East”變成“法·伊斯特”,把“遠西 Far West”變成“法·威斯特”的所謂後殖民、全球化和人工智能的“荒謬時代”製造更多的“荒謬”,以便讓造成這種萬劫不覆的“當代烏托邦”的我們落入更深的淵潭。在此深淵,畏懼害怕已經失去意義,唯有“兄弟爬山,各自努力”[2]。所以他在給正在策劃中的柏林展覽計劃尋找題目時,想到了“畏無所畏”[3]。相信昨晚他無意之中敲叩了天堂之門時,真是畏無所畏的。

2020年10月7日下午4時,羅馬

[1] 黃小鵬,敲叩天門(弗·羅姆·法·伊斯特·圖· 法·威斯特),“影像三角誌, 珠江三角洲的錄像藝術 (The D-Tale, Video Art from the Pearl River Delta)”,主編:侯瀚如,希蓓,時代藝術中心 Times Art Center, Berlin,柏林,Sternberg Press, 2018  P. 245 (英文 p.244)

[2] 小鵬有口皆碑的創新性教學,不僅鼓勵後進勇於實踐,更讓他們自由面對這個荒謬的世界,用想像和創意去掙扎著生活。

[3] 小鵬與我最後(10月2日)的WeChat對話。他說:“這次項目的中文名字‘問你驚未’似乎表達不出Fear, No Fear的含義,‘畏無所畏’是不是更好?”


Huang Xiaopeng, K.O.H.D. (from far east to far west)  
2014–2016, video, 120’, video still, courtesy of the artist.
This work was shown at Times Art Center Berlin’s inaugural exhibition, The D-Tale: Video Art from the Pearl River Delta, curated by Hou Hanru and Xi Bei.

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MASKS BY TAILOR LÊ

Sep 25, 2020

TIMES ART CENTER BERLIN x ABOUT A WORKER

Times Art Center Berlin is excited to present the outcome of a new collaboration: Masks by Tailor Lê. These individually designed masks, made by tailor Lê and his co-workers in Berlin, reflect a unique dialogue between the German-Vietnamese tailor and Chinese-French artist Kim Hou. For her project ABOUT A WORKER, Hou worked remotely, during the coronavirus pandemic, with Times Art Center Berlin and tailor Lê to create three hundred handmade face masks. 

Masks by Tailor Lê highlights the presence of the German-Vietnamese community to Berlin’s social fabric. With a long history of multiple waves of migration to both East and West Germany in the period after the Vietnam War, Vietnamese immigrants—a high percentage of which are self-employed and self-made business owners—have significantly contributed to the city’s creative energy and independent entrepreneurial culture. Based on the idea of giving artistic agency to workers and craftsmen, the joint project between Hou and tailor Lê reflects Times Art Center Berlin’s effort to foster new collaborative and local models of creative production.

TAILOR LÊ

“I am not worried about the future. People always need tailoring.” 

Tailor Lê, born in Vietnam, arrived in Berlin in the last year of the GDR in 1988. Originally trained as an engineer in Vietnam, he has owned a restaurant and worked in the food sector and wholesale markets in Berlin for many years, before opening his successful tailor shop on Danziger Strasse six years ago. He learned the craft of tailoring early on in his life, as his mother was a seamstress.


ABOUT A WORKER

“COVID-19 keeps exposing the weaknesses of our globalised system. In a time, when our material needs are debatable, our global population should take this opportunity to meet and value the people willing to continue working for their territory(ies) and surrounding(s).’’ –Kim Hou

Founded in 2017 by Kim Hou (Creative Director) and Paul Boulenger, ABOUT A WORKER is a design studio giving manufacturing workers the ability to become designers. Through an introduction to creative expression, workers design products inspired by their vision of the industry and personal stories, using design as a universal language. ABOUT A WORKER’s creations question connect workers, designers, consumers in order to transform their context inclusively. Graduated in 2017 from the Design Academy of Eindhoven in the Netherlands, Kim Hou created ABOUT A WORKER as her graduation project: a platform to rethink the design industry of tomorrow. Through its complementarity with Kim’s artistic vision, Paul Boulenger has joined ABOUT A WORKER in 2017. Paul focuses on garment production methods by exploring current working conditions.


Kim Hou Introduces MASKS BY TAILOR LÊ

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Can the black woman’s theory become a theory of the Global South?

Jun 05, 2020

In response to Saidiya Hartman’s Venus in Two Acts, Huang Kun asks: “Can the black woman’s theory become a theory of the Global South, of the South of the South? Can she be translated into our language? Who are we?”

During special times like this, we demand peace, kindness, and racial justice for all. The text is now available in Times Museum’s online journal – South of the South.

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Reopening on May 30, 2020

May 28, 2020

Zhou Tao: Winter North Summer South, installation view, © Times Art Center Berlin

Times Art Center Berlin is pleased to reopen on May 30, 2020 with summer hours: Tuesdays through Saturdays, 12 PM – 7 PM. We have also extended Zhou Tao: Winter North Summer South until August 1, 2020. To ensure a safe and healthy environment, we kindly ask you to book your visit in advance:

www.timesartcenter.org/visit-us

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New Release: South of the South

May 26, 2020

Times Museum recently released the first issue of online journal South of the South. It provokes multifaceted reflection on the accelerated state of the Pearl River Delta—now re as the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area—as a scalable model of modernization in Asia and a test site of globalization in China, where circulation of labor, capital, bodies, rituals, objects, images, and ideas reveals invisible undercurrents of Southern geographies and visions.