Jennifer Wen Ma (b1973, Beijing) works across a variety of media, including installation, video, drawing, performance, public art and fashion design. Chosen from more than 500 applicants, she was one of the seven members of the core creative team for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, as well as the chief designer for visual and special effects. Last year, her opera Paradise Interrupted,with composer Huang Ruo, premiered at the Spoleto Festival USA following a special preview at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Many of her works take landscape or nature as their subject matter and her new site-specific commission, Molar, for the group exhibition of 16 Chinese sculptors, A Beautiful Disorder, at the Cass Sculpture Foundation, offers a place of reflection in a disintegrating utopia, where beauty and destruction cohabit, and inspiration can be drawn from the diseased as well as the prosperous.
Wen Ma talks to Studio International about her new work and her wider practice, now split between Beijing and New York.
Studio International also spoke to the Cass Sculpture Foundation’s curatorial director, Claire Shea, about the concepts behind this first international group exhibition and the global success of this young generation of Chinese artists.
A Beautiful Disorder
Cass Sculpture Foundation, West Sussex
3 July – 6 November 2016
Interview by ANNA McNAY
Filmed by MARTIN KENNEDY
Papunya painting: out of the desert
Art is a central force in Aboriginal culture and a critical political tool. Through an understanding of the art it has been possible to make a case for Aboriginal rights. The Sydney Olympics in 2000 were used both to expose the dreadfully inhuman conditions under which many Australian Aborigines still lived, and also to incorporate Aboriginal art and ritual into contemporary culture. Thousands of Aborigines took part in the superb theatrical ceremony; a great part of which was inspired and dedicated to the history of Australia before the arrival of white European settlers.
The John Bellany Odyssey - paintings from Italy, China and the Tsunami
John Bellany's paintings are among the most confrontational, humanistic paintings produced in Britain in recent history. Layered with references to the expressionist tradition in art, and to his own dramatic life, recent death and incredible survival, they are allegories of mortality that have no rival today.
Book review: Sir John Vanbrugh: Storyteller in Stone
A new biographical study of the architect Sir John Vanbrugh (1664-1726) is most timely. The historical importance of this remarkable polymath has been in need of revision for four decades or more. Vanbrugh was positioned in different ways by Sir John Summerson, for example, or by Sir Niklaus Pevsner. On one hand, due recognition was paid to him for the designs of Castle Howard, and for Blenheim Palace, especially. But in the past two decades, the relationship of such buildings to their total landscape has been reconsidered, as has the work by Vanbrugh's collaborators, such as Nicholas Hawksmoor, and even successors, such as Capability Brown.
Xiangshan Campus, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, China
Established in 1928, the China Academy of Art is the first comprehensive art academy in China committed to integrating eastern and western art in its curriculum, while creating contemporary art according to the principles of Chinese culture. The new Xiangshan campus, located in the outskirts of Hangzhou, marks another chapter in the development of the school towards a 21st-century educational model.