Pond Society


Pond Society
(Chishe)
Artist group
Formed by former students of the China Academy of Fine Arts (see art academies), the Pond Society removed art from a narrow academic context to explore public interaction. Established in May 1986 by Zhang Peili, Geng Jianyi and Song Ling, its first activity, Work No. 1, Yang Taiji Series, consisted of large newspaper cut-out figures pasted on the wall outside the Academy. Their aims found perfect expression in Geng Jianyi’s installation Waterworks (Zilai shuichang, 1988). Zhang Peili’s Plan for the Realization of a Dialogue and Its Observation (Duijiang huodong xieyishu, 1987) and Brown Leather Book (Hepishu, 1988), both mailings, developed as a reaction to public apathy towards the Pond Society activities. They explored social interaction through themes of conformity, manipulation and the ominous connotations of health (jiankang) and sterility.
Many of these social concerns were already discernable in the ‘1985 New Space Exhibition’ (Xin kongjian, 1985), which also featured Wang Qiang and Bao Jianfei. The exhibited works adopted a cold, ambiguous and questioning attitude towards modern life—habitually reduced to images glorifying industrialization. Wang Qiang sculpted a headless, handless musical conductor. Zhang Peili’s Midsummer Swimmers (Zhongxia de yongzhe), painted in clean intense blues, suggested an environment de-humanized to the point of sterility, whereas his End Note (Xiuzhi yinfu) denies the usual fanfare celebration of progress. Geng Jianyi’s Haircut 3, Yet Another Bald Head (Lifa sanhao—1985 nian xiajide you yige guangtou) has an underlying reference to the rebelliousness of having one’s head shaved, an attitude also present in the congealed smile of his The Second State (Di’er zhuangtai, 1987).
Lü, Peng and Yi, Dan (1992). Zhongguo xiandai yishushi [A History of Modern Art in China]. Changsha: Hunan meishu chubanshe, 208–25.
EDUARDO WELSH

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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