Touching the Stones: China Art Now

Waling Boers, Brigitte Oetker (Hrsg.)

Touching the Stones: China Art Now Jahresring #53 (Edition 2) © Kulturkreis/Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König

Published by: Buchhandlung Walther König, Köln
Year of publication: 2006
Edition: Deutsch/Englisch
Pages: 279
ISBN: 978-3-86560-163-6

Contributions by: Thomas Bayrle, Xu Bing, Waling Boers, Lu Chunsheg, Pi Daojian, Liu Ding, Zhang Enli, Cao Fei, Yang Fudong, Wang Guangyi, Zheng Guogu, Cai Guoqiang, Ni Haifeng, Hong Hao, Zhang Huan, Christian Jankowski, Wang Jianwei, Yang Jiecang, Yin Jinan, Martina Köppel-Yang, Son Kun, Yan Lei, Pi Li, Erik van Lieshout, Fang Lijun, Carol (Yinghua) Lu, Kem Lum, Jonathan Monk, Zhang Peili, Huang Rui, Chen Shaoxiong & Ozawa Tsuyoshi, Mark Siemons, Xu Tan, Zhou Tao, Stephanie Tasch, Zhou Tiehai, Philip Tinari, Wang Wei, Ai Weiwei, Zhang Xiaogang, Chen Xiaoyun, Sun Xun, Gong Yan, Yi Ying, Huang Yongping, Sun Yuan, Liang Yue, Xu Zhen, Qui Zhijie, Zhou Zixi, Big Tail Elephant Group, Yangjiang Group



This text (by Jorge Luis Borges) quotes “a certain Chinese encyclopedy”, in which it is said that “the animals are grouped in the following manner: a) animals belonging to the Emperor, b) embalmed animals, c) tamed, d) milk pigs, e) sirens, f) fable animals, g) dogs without master, h) belonging to this group, i) behaving like fools, k) those drawn by a very fine pencil made of camel hair, l) et cetera, m) those who broke the water-jug, n) those looking like flies from far away.”

In the astonishment about this taxinomy, one achieves in one step what is designated in this list as the exotic charm of another thinking—the limit of our own thinking: the sheer impossibility to think this.

Michel Foucault 

We talk about East Asia and the Chinese call it the Middle Kingdom. How could we elucidate better the different perspectives one can take when looking on China. For us Europeans it is exotic, far away and unknown, and for the Chinese, it is the centre from which the world pivots.

The West’s interest in this fascinating and complex country has been growing constantly after Mao’s death and due not only to economic reasons, but also to its cultural developments which raised both speculation and curiosity.

The Fine Arts have a special status in China—their development over the last few years has been extraordinary. A starting point certainly was the 1999 Venice Biennale curated by Harald Szeemann, where he presented contemporary art from China for the first time to a larger extent for a bigger audience. After this, the process gained momentum with many presentations being exhibited worldwide.

Global interest in today’s Chinese art is also evident because of its big success on the market, which has found a strong echo in the media due to sometimes high international auction results.

I would like to thank Waling Boers for the insight he gives with this Jahresring, into China’s present art scene, but also for his clear perception regarding the origins in the 1980s, which are important for the understanding of this phenomena. He was able to gain the participation of both the essential artists and actors inside and outside China.
This book is a comprehensive collection, and singular in its kind.

Brigitte Oetker