Ching Ching Cheng: Rootless
Artist: Ching Ching Cheng(USA/Tai Wan)
Opening Reception：2011.9.10, 20:00
Duration：2011.9.10 – 9.26
Location：TCG Nordica, Loft, Xiba Road No.101, Kunming
Artist Talk: The Economics of Contemporary Art — Branded Auctions
Location：943 Space, A Zone, Loft•JinDing 1919, North Jinding Shan Road No.15, Kunming
In cooperating with: TCG Nordica, 943 Space, Loft· 金鼎1919
Forward by Luo Fei
Although Ching Ching Cheng’s grandfather originally lived in Beijing, he immigrated to Taiwan 65 years ago due to World War II. Ching Ching was born in Taiwan and moved to the United States to study art and design in 2003. Due to history or fate, her grandfather moved from mainland China to Taiwan, she moved from Taiwan to the United States, and now she has come from the United States to Kunming for an artist residency at 943 Studio. Her familial experience of migration and her own experience of straddling cultural divides collide and interweave in her work, causing her to seek the roots of her own culture.
Ching Ching received her arts education in the United States, and her work exhibits a wide variety of styles. She is interested in digital, traditional and three dimensional art, and challenges herself to continually tackle new obstacles and realize new ideas. Ching Ching excels at working in different mediums, and many of her works are done in ink, watercolor, gouache and acrylic. Their color pallet is often subtle and peaceful.
I am particularly fond of her series of used books carved into the shape of old-fashioned cameras and gramophones. By carving and shaping the worn pages of these books, Ching Ching is able to recreate these precious instruments, and although they are not the objects per se, they retain the thoughts and emotions that Ching Ching has infused them with through her extraordinary handiwork. This is one aspect of the unique personality found throughout Ching Ching’s work, which is often romantic, subtle, quiet, and generous. By transforming these daily wares into emblems of her personal experience, she calls into question culture in the context of this generation.
Ching Ching’s work is marked by a sense of synthesis. They often include a silhouette and within these outlined forms, the sentiments, thoughts and stories of people flow freely. Similarly, the magnificent colors of her watercolor-based work resemble the roots or feathered plumage found in nature. All of the forms create a feeling of poetic revival.
This exhibition is composed of four works that Ching Ching completed with local materials during her three month residency in Kunming. The first is named “Rootless Restaurant” and is related to the tradition of fortune cookies. Hiding inside are moments of fate. Whether success, fame, mediocrity or blessings, they are all bits of life’s destiny.
The second work is also related to food. Using various foods, Ching Ching composed liquid paints which she applied to paper bowls. Hidden among the arrangement of bowls is an interactive sound installation that may remind the audience of their memories of kitchens.
The third work is a series of watercolor calligraphy works. The characters she has chosen (for example “Home” “Love” “Country”) are strongly tied to conceptions of national identity. The works investigate the discrepancy between traditional and simplified Chinese characters. During the process of simplification, the meaning of the characters is obfuscated.
The fourth work is a sculpture of a Chinese seal which, instead of characters, features a fingerprint. In Chinese culture, the signature seal has been a symbol of authority comparable to a written signature in the West. Ching Ching lives within both cultural traditions, and switches between them. Is it possible that this work, a stamp of the artist’s thumbprint, transcends the cultural divide?
Ching Ching’s work allows us to enter and investigate immigrant culture. The open and interactive elements in the works allow the audience to participate in the feelings and emotions, and reflect on the ever-advancing roots of culture. To what do we belong? Is it possible for nationalism to be the ultimate answer?
Sep 2, 2011
translated by R. Orion Martin