Tong Kunniao at Cc Foundation / Shanghai

Tong Kunniao / Golden Dystopia on Three Millimeters

March 12- May 10, 2021

Cc Foundation & Art Centre

Room 101, Bldg. 15, M50 Art Industrial Park, 50 Moganshan Road

Shanghai, China 

*photo credits:
Images courtesy of the artist and Cc Foundation

As one of China's promising young artists, Tong’s practice traverses fluidly through a variety of media---installation, performance, video, sculpture, and painting---as forms of expression. The readymade objects at his fingertips are always the source of inspiration. They conjure idiosyncratic meanings after being re-assembled, conveying a subversive sense of humor in response to contemporary Chinese society.

The exhibition title "Golden Dystopia Above 3 Millimeters" is borrowed from the title of Tong’s brand-new work from the series of Balancing Birds, created by the artist during the pandemic. The exhibition is presented as one elaborate balancing act on a single cold iron pole that supports multiple sets of balancing birds, each constructed with the minimal contact surface between the objects, wobbling in the air. Together, they balance out one another’s weight to constitute the Golden Dystopia, a community that bands together for prosperity. It seems to be a stabilized, orderly and glitzy constellation at the first glance, but upon a closer inspection, the dangling utopia also looks as if being on the brink of debacle. 

The golden constellation consists of seven clusters: the sow with heavy makeup as the head of the family, the globe of rumors, Frankenstein’s baby, the stiff claws of lust, the yes-man’s beak, the spine of power and the lazy wings. Those could be interpreted as the "Seven Commandments" in George Orwell's Animal Farm of the decaying golden utopia. On the one hand, the work seems a priori, in accordance with the law of physics, otherwise the multiple components cannot reach a balanced state. But on the other hand, the constellation also strikes the viewer to be vulnerable, threatened with an impending collapse.

At a time when the pandemic is still sweeping the world, people have retreated to their own countries, cities, families and even their own individual interiors---local communities with a shared fate for the future. Only there, can they find a moment of security and a sense of protection. However, the different balancing units in the totality, which is firmly fixed on the fulcrum at the tip of the iron pole, are impossible to move away from the positions assigned to them.

In the Animal Farm, the doctrine is that "four legs are good, two legs are bad.” Then what about the golden dystopia on "one leg?" In the golden light of the sunset, the dazzling dystopia entices the viewer to contemplate on crises for survival and the fate in the future for the mankind of the global community.