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Material Consequences - Ceramic Art from China, Norway, Denmark and Canada

To promote the cultural and artistic exchanges between China and the world, explore the contemporary and cosmopolitan nature of Chinese traditional ceramic materials, and observe the creative ecology of ceramic artists in different geographical contexts, the exhibition Material Consequences - Ceramic Art from China, Norway, Denmark and Canada, was successfully opened at Kunstgarasjen Art Space in Bergen, Norway on September 21, 2018. The exhibition was co-sponsored by Shanghai Wu Changshuo Memorial Hall, Shanghai Pudong Culture Media Co., Ltd., undertaken by Art Pudong (Shanghai) Artwork Co., Ltd., curated by Zhang Ting (China) and Bjørn Inge Follevaag (Norway), and supported by the Norwegian Royal Consulate General in Shanghai,. The exhibition featured 68 works by six artists, including Chen Xiaodan (China), Heidi Bjorgan (Norway), Astrid Sleire (Norway), Trine Hovden (Norway), Krestine Harboe (Denmark) and Linda Sormin (Canada).

The touring exhibition was based on the exhibition Second Chances: Ceramic Arts of China, Norway, Denmark and Canada which opened at the Wu Changshuo Memorial Hall in Shanghai on December 5, 2017. The first exhibition had achieved unanimous praise from Chairman Deng Xiaoxian of the Shanghai Association for International Cultural Exchange, Vice Minister Sun Yu of the Shanghai Pudong Propaganda Department, Ms. Katrine Haukenes, Cultural Consul of the Norwegian Royal Consulate General in Shanghai, Director Wu Yue of Shanghai Wu Changshuo Memorial Hall and other leaders and guests. The opening event was reported on by 12 national media groups, including Artron Art, Sina Collection, Empty Art, Collection, Art China, 99 Art Network, and Tencent Dashen Network.

In order to activate a multilateral dialogue between the Chinese and foreign artists, to understand the creative concept while deepening their academic understanding of different creative ecologies, the curator planned the concept in depth during the preparation of the Norwegian touring exhibition in order to form the "2.0" model with the main title of "Material Consequences", to explore the sustainability of ceramics as a material medium and its historical and contemporary conceptuality, excavate its new material attributes, and trigger a comprehensive discussion of ceramic culture in different regions. The exhibition site, Kunstgarasjen Art Space, was originally transformed from a garage and is the largest non-profit art organization in Bergen. The industrial space is primarily used to display Norwegian contemporary art works, and actively promotes international exchanges. Unlike the traditional Chinese timber courtyard of the Wu Changshuo Memorial Hall in Shanghai, Kunstgarasjen is a typical "white box" environment. Work by the same artists presented in such aesthetically different environments can evoke a different reading and interpretation, and the audience in Norway bring their own cultural background and understanding of the ceramic arts.

Across the thousands of years of Chinese culture, ceramic has accrued the value of carrying Tao (harmony, order, universality) with utility. This was related to the physical properties of clay, and also to the historical, emotional bond that the Chinese have with the local soil. After the artist's hand-made process of drawing, printing, repairing, carving, drying and applying, the clay goes through the process of high-temperature firing and finally comes into collision with unpredictable spiritual forces through thousands of accidental causes. This power is imbued in our everyday utensils. Although these are ordinary things that can be carried by hand, it is also the result of human beings transforming the most primitive material through skill and heat. Over the course of history, ceramic art has gone from China's unique contribution to a universal art, with the styles in different countries reflecting the soils and specific cultural conditions. The special sensitivity to materials makes ceramic art, a cultural heritage derived from the handicrafts of Chinese artisans, under the hands of artists around the world, with different cultural attributes to trace the rivers of their local history and cultural influences, in their own languages. Because ceramic is an art that closely relates to physical properties, it transcends history and contemporaneity, geography and politics, language and writing, gender and identity, concrete and abstract, and uses the same language to collectively weave a picture of world culture. Through cooperation and international exchange between art institutions, we see how artists in different environments find expression with the same material, generating rich and changeable dialogues, in cross-cultural comparative research.

Partners: Kunstgarasjen Art Space, Norway
Date: 2018