A Blueprint for Ruins brings together the works of Chinese artists in a collective comment on insensitive urbanisation and the legacy of built-in obsolescence. The various works include sculptures, installations, canvases and multi-media, and each in their way, address the emotional impact of rapid urban development and demise.
As China experiences unprecedented economic growth, it is modernising its cities using the same errors in judgement that cities all over the world have used, creating wastelands and ghettos and holding its own extensive history to ransom.
The artists whose have contributed to A Blueprint for Ruins have used media including metal, concrete, glass, wire, porcelain, resin, as well as the more traditional ink, oil, acrylic and marble in creative responses that range from nostalgic to cynical to humorous. All have a sense of empathy and connection to culture.
Zhang Dali’s Square 9 is a resin sculpture of a person with arms outstretched with birds perched and pecking at them. It may be a parody of a statue but it also has an inherent melancholy about it.
Chen Wei’s Drunken Dance Hall is an installation that features a room with mirror balls on the ground, empty drink bottles, speakers and coloured lights. It speaks of abandoned hedonism.
One of the most striking works in terms of iconography is Jian Hun Xi’s The Empire, which is immediately recognisable as the dome of the Capitol building in Washington DC. It is a large replica made of raw wood and it has a slight tilt, much like the famous Tower of Pisa. The interior of the dome is like a doll house, outfitted with miniature bedroom furniture; a conspicuous CTV camera, however, negates the concept of domestic bliss.
There are many more works in A Blueprint for Ruins; it’s a reflective, eye-opening walk-through which has relevance to the world beyond China.