Artist(s) Liu Ding
Venue Antenna Space
Just as the protagonist of the song (whose last name, jianguo, literally means “the founding of the nation”) was emblematic of an entire generation of Chinese who were coming of age in the 1990s: he has a good job, he lives a good life, he has his wife, child, relatives and friends, but he can’t help feeling lost still, Liu Ding depicts the complex ideological stamping and historical constructs that shape and define the generations born after 1949 (the founding of the People’s Republic of China) through recounting a series of “anecdotes” in his exhibition. As the song goes, “You must have seen him somewhere, his name is Li Jianguo. If you ask who he is, he is every one of us.”
Liu Ding’s oeuvre has a distinctive quality of essay-writing and pays recurrent attention towards history. Since 2010, he has carried out an expansive research on the subject of the legacy of socialist realism, which is realized through writing, making of artworks and exhibitions. This ongoing research project takes socialist realism as a historical vantage point to reconsider and re-evaluate its persistent influence as an operative vehicle for the logic and ideology of social structures and organization on the values of contemporary culture and spirits in China. This research also attempts to reveal and analyze the fact that socialist realism still persists as a fundamental basis for the practice and discourse of contemporary art in China today.