Inside-Out Practice | Stacks of Paper, Riot of Color: The Politics of Taste

Inside-Out Practice | Stacks of Paper, Riot of Color: The Politics of Taste

September 23 – November 11, 2018

Beijing Inside-Out Art Museum, No.50 Xingshikou Road, Haidian District, Beijing

Curator: Yang Tiange

As the fourth episode of the Inside-Out Practice, the exhibition aims to address the contemporary concern. Stacks of paper, Riot of Color, the two terms are used individually and carry different significances. “Stacks of paper”, being the medium for texts and reading activities, epitomizes social concern. In contrast, to “riots of color” which mainly communicates the sense of form, artistic taste becomes a primary issue. To separate the two terms is not to place them in a binary structure where they are cut off from each other, or to regard the society as a physical, political space and art as a spiritual, aesthetic one. Rather, the exhibition examines art in relation to society in the context of their symbiosis. Viewed with such a relational perspective, art exists neither as straightforward social activism nor as egoistic gestures distanced from social reality. How art can genuinely engage with society without losing its autonomy is a question the exhibition challenges itself to answer.


The subject of social concern as against artistic taste is such an age-old topic that it appears almost timeless, yet it is also a topic of special present relevance in today’s China and the art world. On the one hand, to express of social concern has become increasingly challenging, and at the same time, art of social intervention finds itself so many gateways into social problems that many of them border upon being pointless. If it has been already difficult for art to make itself heard, it is even harder for the voice to be loud enough and effective. On the other hand, the issue of taste—which should have been the subject of serious discussions—has been internalized by numerous art museums in a crude manner as a marketing strategy. Pure visual or sensual experiences predominates cultural productions, turning exhibitions into photo booths and selfie resorts. With the veneration for taste alone comes the laxity in knowledge production. This may serve as an admonition for us that having a good taste and being merely “interesting” are not sufficient in themselves.


This exhibition selects its display meticulously and intends to face squarely challenges posed by taste and by socio-political concern respectively. As the works by many young artists in this exhibition show, social concern cannot be singled out from aesthetic taste, Artists have either taken their social concern as the starting point and explored its apposite form, or primarily focused on the formal innovation while enriching it with the advancement of thoughts and reflections. The exhibition is arranged thematically and consists of four parts: Prelude, Grotesque History, Chaotic Reality, and Aesthetic Taste. However, the four parts in display at the exhibition do overlap and interlace with one another and constitute an organic whole. In so doing, the exhibition strives towards both visual consistency and the emphasis on the important position that social concern cannot be cut off from artistic taste. 

Thomas Galler, Gao Jiachun, Hao Haoran, Huang Cheng, Ulises Carrión, Li Chao, Li Junnan, Lee Yen-Hua, Ping Ping Fan, Christa Ziegler, Sponge Gourd Collective, Wang Bo, Wenjie Junjie, Ye Su, Cécile Hummel, Tessa Zettel, Zhang Ke, Zhou Zeliang, Zhu Xiang


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