WANG JIANWEI: DIRTY SUBSTANCE
In Wang Jianwei’s concept of the “dirty substance,” we find something extremely contradictory: it is a ridge of jagged rock, a reef he happens upon in the mining of his universal thought process—an obstacle he has no choice but to deal with, which he does precisely by confirming it as unclean. A dirty substance. Stolen goods. Dirty substances are everywhere; they do not require this kind of ratification.
During the exhibition opening, Crystal Group’s performance Someone is Rehearsing in the Backyard is a product of the same logic. The script remains traditional despite its ambitions, depending solely on language to form and transmit information. Each participant is responsible for writing his or her own part, and most are masters of linguistic logic. What seems like a sudden interruption is often actually molded to a logical, textual approach. Wang deliberately avoids spontaneity; perhaps he believes this kind of state would not have a clear, verifiable origin, or that it would be tainted with uncontrollable contextual factors. Or perhaps he believes that this liberation, when combined with the cumulative experience of time, cannot remain clear in the present—he wants time to begin anew with each rehearsal.
What does it mean for rehearsal to unfold anew each time? What new event occurs? The Crystal Group’s text, in that it is recited at every rehearsal, is itself a universal discourse. There is something systematic about it; there is not a sense of the event occurring in the immediate present. The same holds true for the dirty substances in the exhibition. They bear the strong mark of Wang Jianwei’s philosophy. As dirt, how else might they be tenable? Perhaps the reason Wang’s work is difficult to criticize is that a negation of specificity gives the work a certain openness, while, in reality, he has built a perfectly self-referential system in which critics have no room to wedge anything concrete.
Long March Space, Beijing 2015.09.19 – 2015.11.01
(Translated by Katy Pinke)