How to look at art from China
Reef: A prequel

How to look at art from China, in the run-up to the BACA AWARD 2016, which focuses on China, includes two exhibitions, residencies at the Van Eyck Academie, lectures, performances, workshops and studio visits. Over the coming two years, the Bonnefantenmuseum and the Van Eyck are working on a short guide to developments in China in the contemporary art scene.'How to look at art from China' receives financial support from the Mondriaan Fund and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The project Reef: A prequel by Carol Yinghua Lu (1977 Chaozhou, Guangdong) and Liu Ding (1976 Changzhou Jiangsu) marks the start of 'How to Look at Art from China'. The renowned Beijing-based curator and artist have developed a room-sized installation especially for the Bonnefanten.

Artist Liu Ding and curator Carol Lu engage in a dialogue with Marcel Broodthaers (Belgian artist, 1924-1976) through the remake of L'entrée de l'Exposition 1974. The theme of the installation is Reef, representing the stumbling blocks and mistakes in interpretation, in an attempt to understand alternative or forgotten histories of art. By reinterpreting Bonnefantenmuseum's collection of Broodthaers' potted palm trees, incongruous poems and photographs, Liu Ding resurfaces the Belgian artist's institutional critique of the western art-world. The museum space is thus transformed from a place of certainty, to a locus of questioning.
Another layer of this dialogue is added as the artist Liu Ding also interacts with the curator and writer Carol Lu. New artworks are integrated through No Introductions, a collection of 14 photographs of a private art collection. This series of photographs mediates the conversations and the different art and curatorial practices that Liu collects from around the world in his ongoing research. The conceptual search for meaning without the need of classification expands in the various inter-media of artistic expression: photography into installation, texts into visual representations, performance and presence into video-art.

In this contestation of mainstream artistic discourses we are invited to respond to an apparently didactical invitation: How to look at art from China. In preparation for the BACA in 2016, Liu Ding and Carol Lu start from a differential point of view and offer an open perspective on a wider visual picture of contemporary art practices from China. In the light of cultural differences and at the limits of mutual understanding, Reef: A prequel is an inherent barrier, but also a meeting point.