by | Nov 2, 2010 |

Get it Louder 2010

Originally launched in 2005, Get It Louder (GIL) has been dubbed China’s “most influential and closely watched exhibition of emerging talent across creative disciplines.” Whether it can claim ownership of that title – as most exhibitions do in China – is another matter. However, with work from upcoming designers to Carsick Cars frontman, Zhang Shouwang, Ai Weiwei and Charlie Koolhaas, the line-up certainly provokes.

Get it Louder 2010 brings together more than 100 Chinese and international creatives from art, design, film, music, and literature to explore the theme “Sharism.” With Web 2.0, social media and cloud intelligence becoming increasingly popular, Sharism examines the ever more convoluted relationship between public and private realms. It also “touches upon issues of collaboration, individual agency and collective action, whilst serving as communal space, both virtual and real.” The exhibition opened in Sanlitun SOHO, Beijing on 19 September, and Notes on Design went along.

Designed by New York firm, SO-IL, the GIL pavilion is the first noticeable feature. Clad in sheets of pink metal, this freestanding structure intends to host workshops, talks and film screenings. The reflections on the outer façade of the pavilion evoke a strange sense of surrealism, a complete contrast to the polished buildings of Sanlitun SOHO.

The SOHO complex itself will eventually transform into a shopping mall; each creative has been allocated an empty store space to exhibit their work, attaching a whole new dynamic to the understanding of “exhibition.” This notion is tested further with a café that sits in a space that would otherwise exist as an atrium, whilst various abstract wooden benches dotted around the area create the ideal atmosphere for contemplation and relaxation. The lack of public space in China makes this setup especially unique.

It is interesting to see such a wide variety of works in one location, though some lack panache and leave the viewer with mixed feelings. Exhibits that stood out include The Open Cage by Liu Feng. Curated by Aric Chen, this installation compares physical and psychic isolation to existence in a birdcage. Liu has linked together open halves of large Chinese bamboo birdcages to illustrate how reconfiguring boundaries could unleash new possibilities. “We may see others, and they may see us,” comments the artist, “but we are nevertheless confined within ourselves…the cage may protect, but it also constrains.”

Chen Zhou’s work, however, induces a more morbid reaction. Dressed in black, the actor Character C is shuttling back and forth among a set of warped furniture. He often appears in frozen mime, diffusing a strong sense of mystery, insecurity and detachedness.

Wu Jian’an demonstrates yet another approach by presenting a delicate set of works influenced by traditional Chinese shadow puppets. He creates his own version of the shadow puppet by using symmetrically cut copper sheets, like the folk art of paper-cuts. The work absorbs the essence of Tibetan art, constructing an elegant and visually striking solution.

The significance of GIL does not entirely lie in the artworks on show, but in everything else that Ou Ning and his team have fought to achieve. Operating in China as an independent (rather than government-led) body is a great accomplishment in itself; combined with the Sharism concept – an extremely relevant theme to China – and the creation of public space to facilitate dialogue, GIL has created a solid foundation for promoting creative cultural exchange. This dynamism and energy now needs to be harnessed and fuelled further.