Radio Free (your name here): Guan Rong at Elephant and for sale
I find these objects that Guan Rong makes so very compelling that I think they require no textual suasion. (Ooh, is it cool to phrase things that way, or does it only turn people off?)
“A piece of art is a flower I offer to the world, and at the same time, it is a “bell of mindfulness” for myself to remember the presence of beauty in my daily life.”
“Copyright-Free, Bonnie, is a collection of self-selected notes, writings, short stories, homework, and letters from 1997 to 2008 by Guan Rong. It contains writings in both English and Chinese without translation.”
“Am I Not Here? is an autobiographical documentary film about my life in the U.S. as an artist and as a person in general.”
“Giving myself an image as a wild-child, the books and film shows my love for everyday life in general.”
“The books and movie are a total party!”
“There are only 300 edition of the books and DVDs; only the first 100 edition have these unique packages.”
“I am selling them for $100 U.S. dollar per set. if you want to purchase one, please go to my Etsy Shop Page.”
Etsy Shop Page: http://www.etsy.com/shop/aminothere
Thus far I have not thrown any languages that Guan Rong did not put already into play.
My experience of getting to know this artist is repeated each time I visit with her and see her work. I worry about the blatant sweetness I find and I think, “Aaah, oooh ouch. This is just too cute. My teeth hurt now.” But, something captures my attention each and every time. There is an intelligence to Guan Rong’s image making – when I have seen abstractions by this artist they have been among the most satisfying abstract works in any medium that I have come across: sweet and charming, yes, but also confident and rigorous in their exclusion of anything, any mark, any text, and any physical volume and granularity that is not necessary to the whole. Each movement is evidence of a choice, and one made in consideration on the entire project. Or this is how it seems when I am looking.
I think also of the young student who walked, one summer day, to school for a project that I have since forgotten. This sounds like “Mary had a little lamb,” but home was a small shared apartment in Monterey Park and school was CalArts in Valencia. Remember this was summer. In both the Valleys. Have you tried walking up the 5?
I watched an early version of this film, my mind glazed over during the long stretches in untranslated Chinese, I recoiled from tales of casual violence, related in matter of fact words and calm voice. I thought that the artist did not seem disengaged from the emotional content of her life, but that perhaps she didn’t understand it, and admitting this that she could then consider it. I think this mirrors my own lack of understanding of her native language and that her insistent use of Chinese in parts of the movie and the book make me feel like I am missing something, yes of course, but also she gives me an opportunity to see how I apprehend communications, where they fit in my brain, and how my life expects success, and what I do with a failure to understand.
I see her impulsive/compulsive uses of the words “fuck” and “shit.” These terms show up almost haphazardly in the books and movie, as well as on the boxes and bags. Her use of these four-letter words is always inappropriate, because they seem unnecessary to her statements. In the past, Guan Rong has paid a price for her use of swear words to break the ice with a correspondent – she has been misunderstood and summarily denied access to a degree. I think that she transgresses personal communication to show how valuable it is to her. A nice note might be more than just nice when it has some blood in it.
Buy something by Guan Rong. When you have the chance, go see her work. Recently Guan Rong performed with John Burtle at Liz Glynn’s Black Box. When I can find images, I shall share them, both these artists are among my favorites.
(And more about the community-building tornado that is Liz Glynn in later posts, but while I am on the subject and have your attention, THREE CHEERS TO LIZ GLYNN. Yay.)
Gaun Rong project on Tumblr: http://aminothere.tumblr.com/