|Works by Guo Gai|
The Soap Factory's current show, "Three Artists: Guo Gai, Meng Tang, Slinko
," is a provocative and lively exhibition that is both thought provoking and engaging. Political, humorous, and at times titillating, the works challenge the viewer to think about roles that culture, society, and government play in our everyday lives.
The first room that guests enter contains the work of Guo Gai, a Chinese photographer, curator, critic, and conceptual artist based in Beijing, China. Nude and partially clad women are shown in photographs getting poked, prodded, and tied up in several series.
|From Guo Gai's Wronged series|
For Chinese Jesus Triptych, Gai features three images on fabric of women painted as Chinese opera geishas on crosses. One is tied up in ropes, another is only in her underwear, and another is fully nude. The photographs juxtapose Christian notions of sacrifice with objectification of women within the context of Chinese cultural forms. The images contrasts with the Nirvana series, where Gai exhibits two prints on fabric of women with similar makeup tied up in ropes, their faces serene. In both projects, the female figures appear at peace. It's hard to tell what their reaction is to the circumstances.
Gai's more unsettling works include his Wronged series and his Inspect, Listen Inquire, and Take Pulse series. In the former, he shows women who are tied up and apparently tortured. The subjects either wear masks or have painted faces that look at the camera almost daringly, questioning the observer's reaction and intent. In the latter series, Gai depicts women being inspected under dubious medical circumstances, perhaps making a statement about government's unduly interference on personal matters.
The second room at the Soap Factory shows the work of Meng Tang, who is from China and who was recently highlighted at the Nash Gallery as part of her MFA thesis exhibition in 2010. Tang's audio/video work Babel is an astonishingly hypnotic piece that features five voices speaking in five languages (English, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and Arabic), dressed in newspaper costumes. The words the speakers say are printed in the gallery book near the front door, but in a way it doesn't matter what they are saying. The piece demonstrates both the beauty and the mundaneness of difference manifested in language.
|Land of the Free by Meng Tang|
Another Tang piece Land of the Free includes an interactive sculptural map of China. Viewers are encouraged to write messages and place them at different locations throughout the country, where red flags are staked. Notes that people have written include "Free Tibet," and "Please overcome materialism soon."
Finally, Slinko, whose work contains an impish humor, presents a number of various media artworks varying from video, to sculpture, to prints. The video work, which includes footage of a young woman slathering herself in mud and several minutes of bricks and rocks floating in the sea, seems purposefully provocative and also surreal. The artist has an appropriately titled piece called Crowd Pleaser which is basically a humongous beard. There's also a very curious sculpture of a podium with a shoe that taps consistently on top, powered by some sort of gear mechanism, with tin cans at the bottom. Slinko's work is playful and ingenious, and although it is the hardest to peg in terms of political message, it is the most memorable.
|Crowd Pleaser by Slinko|
In all, it's an excellent collection of work, so be sure to check it out. Gallery hours are on Thursday and Friday from 2 to 8 p.m.,
and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.The exhibit runs through October 23.
514 2nd St. SE, Minneapolis, MN