PHENAKITES ARE FOREVER

Introduction

Phenakite is a fairly rare mineral that used to be crafted into diamond and is thus considered an impostor. To replace the most expensive crystal is a brave deception, or is it a deception? If the diamond is the beautiful times in our memory or unchanging belief in heart, the phenakite is then a symbol of an eternal change in our lives. The change flows with time, washing everything we once had and used to; and those things are therefore more precious. Through Chen Qiushi’s lens, we can see how a group of people who once lived a utopian life in a socialist community, are entangled in the memory of the past and the development of today after the intervention of the market economy. While langweixian’s non-object works investigate the dynamic and dialectic relation between art and its viewers; how the aesthetic ideology changed us and vice versa. Revealed in the artworks, is a disconcerting situation when contemporary art viewers face an uncertainty that in their mind, should be a certainty. The works are also their psychoanalytical method in the contemporary art field.

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you can also see relevant research here



意难平(Valleys night)

The Chinese name of this project means “the will is difficult to calm down”, and these photos were taken for the factory with the original code name of 19(5712). This is a maintenance factory relying on the Air Force of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. It has its own schools, hospitals, club sports fields and other perfect infrastructure, and people have a self-sufficient life within the system. However, with the China opening of economy, the reform of states-owned economic system from the end of last century to the beginning of this century made this community move from collectivist production and life to economic market. In the tide of nearly 20 years, the military community represented by this factory has been struggling with the tension between yesterday’s memories and today’s reality. Those habits, emotions, have quietly passed away after time and time again, but gradually become rich in everyone’s memory. Nowadays, although it has become an unregulated area and lost the glory of the original system, the community radio station will still sound the loud wake-up call of military music every morning on weekdays. Between the past and the future, people always seems to sway. These pictures bring the focus closer to the people’s life of this community today. Compared with the historical writing, I believe this can better show the true being of this community.
— Chen Qiushi

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Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.

An excerpt from Burnt Norton (No. 1 of ‘Four Quartets’) by T. S. Eliot


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“It is not necessary to accept everything as true, one must only accept it as necessary.’ ‘A melancholy conclusion,’ said K. ‘It turns lying into a universal principle.”

The Trial by Franz Kafka

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意难平 (Valleys night), 2020. Photograph, dimension variable. ©Chen Qiushi

All images courtesy of the artist.


a piece of history

The Chinese are not inherently collectivists. Chinese people were more like individualists to some extent before the establishment of the Republic. Despite the rapid changes in ideology, such a transformation from individualism to collectivism was a historical “miracle”.

A major factor is the policy of public canteen.

The public canteen started in the summer and autumn of 1958 and stopped in the summer of 1961, and some places stopped earlier. The public canteen has been in China for less than two years, but its disaster and impact have far exceeded that of two years. Frederick Engels proposed the idea of a public canteen as early as 1845.

In Speeches in Elberfeld, he said: “And then the preparation of meals — what a waste of space, ingredients, labour, is involved in the present, separate households, where every family cooks its little bit of food on its own, has its own supply of crockery, employs its own cook, must fetch its own supplies separately from the market, from the garden, from the butcher and the baker! One can safely assume that under a communal system of preparing and serving meals, two-thirds of the labour force now engaged in this work will be saved, and the remaining third will nevertheless be able to perform it better and more attentively than is the case at present. “

However, the Communist Party had gone too far. They ignored the development of China’s society at that time and applied the communist theory directly to reality. This public canteen was only an epitome of collectivism that influences most of people’s way of living from the Republic period till today.

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two pieces of memories

”In order to encourage everyone to work, anyone who does not work, and who does not do his best, must deduct food, eat less, or even not be allowed to eat. Due to the low food rations and the policy of deduction and penalty, some members of the society were hungry to eat bark and grass roots.”

An elderly man in his 70s was often deprived of food since he was too old to work efficiently and in the end, he was bedridden.

He said to his grandchildren when he was dying: “Every year in the day I die, you put a bowl of white rice on the threshold, call my name, as long as I have a soul, I must come back and eat a full meal.”

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Time alone gives solidity to their right; and operating gradually on the minds of men, reconciled them to thing causes any authority, and makes it seem just and reasonable.
A Treatise of Human Nature by David Hume


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Zo, (the Spirit-lord) of the Northern Sea, said, ‘A frog in a well cannot be talked with about the sea;— he is confined to the limits of his hole. An insect of the summer cannot be talked with about ice; it knows nothing beyond its own season. A scholar of limited views cannot be talked with about the Tao; he is bound by the teaching (which he has received).

Zhuangzi — Khiu Shui, or ‘The Floods of Autumn.’

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l a n g w e i x i a n

please click the links above to get the works

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floccinaucinihilipilification of the inaniloquent and WHY BE ACE, 2020. Hyperlinks. ©langweixian

Courtesy of the artist group


The world is an estranged and untrue world so long as man does not destroy its dead objectivity and recognise himself and his own life ‘behind’ the fixed form of things and laws. When he finally wins this self-consciousness, he is on his way not only to the truth of himself, but also of his world. And with the recognition goes the doing. He will try to put this truth into action, and make the world what it essentially is, namely, the fulfillment of man’s self-consciousness.”

Reason and revolution by Herbert Marcuse

We are advocates of the mimetic theory. For us, art is not only representation of an outer reality, but re-representation or re-construction of that, i.e., subjective expression.

The works are imitations of the dynamic and dialectic relation between contemporary art viewers and art per seWHY BE ACE, insinuates the once most famous YBAs. We’re curious about the contradiction between the name and the content of a certain work, a group of people or even a community. Despite semantic analysis, we utilise this work to psychoanalyse ourselves and the audience. 

And in the other work, we try to say something on the web before it skips to google. A disconcerting situation is always there. The uncertainty we see and the certainty in our mind. So, it has something to do with causationism. The universal principle has deceived us since we are born. 

— langweixian


YOU CAN ALSO SEE RELEVANT RESEARCH HERE


With thanks to Patrick Jameson, Mónica Núñez Laiseca and Alexandra Ross.



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About the Artists

Chen Qiushi.

Male. 22 years old. Currently living in Suzhou, China. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in law/philosophy from Southeast University and currently is a MFA student at the Glasgow School of Arts. He has research capabilities on contemporary photography and related content of photography history.

Artist Website: chenqiushi.net
Email: chenqiushi07@gmail.com
Instagram: cqssssa
WeChat: chenqiushinihao

langweixian

langweixian is an artist group based in Changsha and Los Angeles. By using non-object media, they allude to contradictions among political environment, ideology and “plastic” personal life.

Email: langweixian26@gmail.com



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