Drawn from The Soap Factory’s links with the University of Minnesota and from our annual submissions, we show three artists whose work addresses issues of society, memory, language and loss, while retaining an emphasis on the beauty and power of the object.
Please note: The Soap Factory will be closing at 5:00pm on October 13th, 14th, 20th and 21st to prepare for our Haunted Basement project.
Learn more about Three Artists: Guo Gai, Meng Tang, Slinko:
Three artists: Guo Gai, Meng Tang and Slinko will be exhibited at The Soap Factory this fall. The work of all three artists addresses issues of society, memory, language and loss, while retaining an emphasis on the beauty and power of the object. Guo Gai is a photographer and activist working in Bejing China, while Meng Tang is a Chinese artist, currently resident in Minneapolis. Both have attracted attention from the Chinese authorities for the political content of their work. Guo Gai was imprisoned for a month in early 2011 for taking part in a protest in support of the Jasmine Revolution at the Beijing Museum of Contemporary Art. Slinko is a New York City artist who emigrated to the USA from the Ukraine in the mid-1990s.
Guo Gai is a photographer, curator, critic and conceptual artist based in Beijing. As a sculptor, he has produced solo exhibitions at Central Fine Arts Institute Gallery (1995) and China Art Gallery (1990). Now in the his 50s he is an artist who, trained in the socialist realism, has lived through the extremes of communism to today’s China, an experiment in authoritarian capitalism. Guo Gai’s photography, with staged images using his own props, family and friends, draws on Chinese culture. Images and characters are abstracted from the opera, traditional theater, socialist realism, missionary Christianity, and then assembled into tableaux that, through this manipulated, mashed-up imagery, explicitly expose the corruption and emptiness at the heart of the new China. At The Soap Factory his photographs will be exhibited at the scale of advertising hoardings or patriotic banners. The photographs will be accompanied by an specially composed choral work, entitled Lament , listing the natural and economic disasters of the last decade in China.
First exhibited as part of her MFA Thesis exhibition at the Nash Gallery in 2010, Meng Tang’s Impression: Babel will be represented in expanded form in Gallery 2 at The Soap Factory. In an enclosed room, eight voices speak in eight languages (English, Spanish, French, Hmong, Japanese, Farsi, Chinese and Arabic) a series of oppositional truisms that are simultaneously profound and meaningless, political and personal -- at the same time that they can be understood and remain obscure. The voices are spoken by figures, simply dressed projected into a black void. Meng both takes from the inspirational internationalism of her alma mater, and of her own life, as a Chinese woman living in Minnesota. However, instead of future where we will all live as one, she posits a world where all communication, both the political and the personal only further increases our confusion and isolation. Both Meng Tang and Guo Gai work within the frame of a calculated riposte to the bright future of unchecked capitalism and global community, but rather than the gaudy fury of Guo’s work, Meng’s reflects a quiet despair.
Slinko grew up, in her own words ‘in a one bedroom apartment in a giant bleak Soviet residential complex’ in Donetsk, Ukraine. The irony of late period Soviet communism is that consumer possessions were so rare that nothing was disposable. Everything was recycled for another use; objects had multiple and interlocking uses and meanings. As a sculptor, a maker of objects, Slinko’s work explores this relationship with visual culture, a relationship colored by the politics of both socialism and liberal capitalism. She sees America in 2011 as a culture teetering ‘at a point of critical mass between enormous over-production and accelerating visualization’, with our relationship to physical reality becoming increasingly ambiguous. At The Soap Factory, Slinko will present aspects of a current work-in-progress entitled Make-Believe. These works will ‘explore the poetic possibilities of a physical object, its cultural role, the artistic labor invested in its materiality and its place in the contemporary circulation of immaterial commodities’. These immaterial avoided objects are the building blocks of ideology and, by making these real, Slinko seeks to expose the basic matter that forms our social and political realities.
This exhibition was co-curated by Professor Thomas Rose of the University of Minnesota and in association with the Nash Gallery at the University of Minnesota. The presentation at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery was developed as part of the International Exchange program with the University of Minnesota Department of Art, the Beijing Film Academy and the Beijing Central Academy of Fine Art. Co-sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the Institute for Global Studies.