ATM14: ReMix @ Bury Sculpture Centre

Review by Tom Kwei | 01 Oct 2014
  • Qiu Xiaofei - Mountain Behind Wood Behind Mountain

A plane hangs defiantly upward at the heart of Bury Sculpture Centre’s lofty exhibition space. Nearby televisions gurgle an asylum song that echoes the minstrel tunes heard from further within the galleries.

Part of this year’s Asia Triennial Manchester, ReMix brings together three artists from China and three from the UK. The six have, we're told, remixed their work from previous Platform China exhibitions, however, bafflingly, we're given no indication of what the originals looked like.

Despite this, the new work is strong enough in its own right. Several works reconfigure their own artistic concerns across established cultural and national boundaries. This is most apparent in David Blandy’s Fortress of Solitude and Jin Shan’s One Man Island which both deal with vastly different ideas of self-projection.

Shan’s bank of ten televisions all play a series of short clips depicting a moment in Shan’s life over the past year and a half. The repetition of turning pages, the murderous clatter of knives, the fragments of song and maddening lullaby are disturbing and affecting. With such a range of action across the screens, odd flickers of logic between the frantic visions become compelling. Blandy presents a more measured intrusion into the personal, with the artist’s childhood man-cave entirely recreated within the Sculpture Centre. Vinyls, books, video games and other formative memorabilia are all on loan for us to explore. This kind of casually confessional approach represents, perhaps, a more western idea of openness than Shan's, but one that is equally intriguing.

Introspection is another key theme, with Pei Li’s Ms Lonely, a small cardboard sanctuary covered with disturbing messages of isolation, offering a rare moment of quiet in the room. AK Dolven, too, in between the morning and the handbag, follows a similar path, presenting a container painted entirely white on the inside save for the projection of a woman nude but for her handbag. The invitation to walk barefoot into the sculpture works well, with the wood underfoot echoing the blend of skin and stone within.

These are all artificial recreations of experience, something Qiu Xiaofei expertly plays with in his cunning Mountain Behind Wood Behind Mountain. Here a small painting of a small painting surrounded by wooden plinths is showcased, the wooden plinths themselves existing both in the artwork and as physical towers around us as we admire the work and its structural alchemy. Xiaofei pulls at the seams of conception and questions the stability of reality – especially interesting considering the wide spread of work the show offers.

ReMix runs at Bury Sculpture Centre until 30 May 2015