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Annals of Floating Island

Exhibition details

Opening / Event Date:
22 July, 2016
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Closing / End Date:
27 August, 2016
Event Category:

SONG Zhenxi and ZHANG Cheng

Participating Artists
GUO Xi + ZHANG Jianling, GONG Xu, ZHU Xi, FENG Chen , HONG Dan, SHAO Wenhuan, and TONG Yixin

Academic Partner
Art Bureau of Investigation (ABI)

Hanart TZ Gallery proudly presents Annals of Floating Island, a special group exhibition of works by 8 young artists who are graduates of the progressive, cross-disciplinary programmes of the China Academy of Art, in Hangzhou. The exhibition is curated by SONG Zhenxi and ZHANG Cheng, and opens on 22 July 2016.

Curatorial Statement

This exhibition focuses on paradigms of constructing discourses about authenticity and creativity. Through the participating artists’ projects and artworks, we can discern their attempts at fresh articulations of ‘truthful narratives’, in which the threads of the virtual are interwoven with the experiences of the actual, and where the boundaries between so-called ‘absolute reality’ and ‘absolute fiction’ are blurred. The artists confront issues such as the reading of history, perceptual illusion, inter-subjectivity and inter-objectivity, and creativity as the product of ideology. Through these confrontations, they seek to create a new kind of discourse that is both informed by and revolves around the state of uncertainty.

This desire to restructure ‘truth’ or ‘authenticity’ results from the artists’ sense of collective purpose based on the particular reality of their life experience during this era. This experience is a complex construction of the intercourse between the secondary life lived within the virtual world of the Internet and the primary life lived within reality; the ubiquitous presence and encroachment of consumer society; and the cultural impoverishment and juxtapositions brought about by an increasingly globalized economy. The result is a state of extreme disruption and fragmentation of perception, sensory experience, judgment and creativity, where boundaries are increasingly blurred.

Through their processes of exploration, the artists seek to establish a new definition of ‘the believable’ that is relevant to their generation; and at the same time, to reorganize the logic of ‘the known’ by providing new feedback of their ‘encounters’ along the way.

The key image of this exhibition is the ‘floating island’, an unanchored existential space that drifts across the ocean. The implications of this image include not only the constant motion of sailing across vast spaces, but also the act of navigating through unknown worlds. It also symbolizes the existence of a small sanctuary for hope and imagination within these ‘uncertain’ times.

The title of the exhibition, Annals of Floating Island (Fudao zhi in Chinese), links together the artists’ projects and physical artworks as both records and historical products of the worlds contained within the floating islands. There is a double entendre here in the use of the character zhi in the Chinese title, which can also mean ‘purpose’: It hints at the purpose of the artists to represent the collective power of their generation as they seek to give a new definition to the ocean of the ‘known’.


Curated by

SONG Zhenxi (b.1985, Wuhan)

Song Zhenxi was born in Wuhan, Hubei province in 1985. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in art history from the China Academy of Art (CAA) in 2008, and his Master’s degree from CAA’s Institute of Contemporary Art and Social Thoughts in 2012. He is currently the curatorial director of CAA’s Media City Research Centre and chief of the Art Bureau of Investigation (ABI). His primary focus is on the condition and development of young contemporary artists and art theory research.

ZHANG Cheng (b.1990, Hangzhou)

Zhang Cheng was born in 1990 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the Zhejiang University of Media and Communications in 2012, and her Master’s degree from the China Academy of Art’s Institute of Contemporary Art and Social Thoughts in 2016. Zhang currently lives and works in Hangzhou, where she focuses on curatorial practice, academic publishing and interactive social projects within online communities.

Artists Biography

GUO Xi (b.1988, Yancheng)

Guo Xi was born in Yancheng, Jiangsu province in 1988. He graduated from the Department of New Media Art of the China Academy of Art in 2010, and was the artist-in-residence at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in the Netherlands for two years. In 2015, Guo received a Master’s degree in Studio Art from New York University.


ZHANG Jianling (b.1986, Wuhan)

Zhang Jianling was born in Wuhan in 1986, and is currently based in Shanghai. She graduated from Wuhan University in 2008, and in 2013 received her Master’s degree from the School of Intermedia Art of the Institute of Contemporary Art and Social Thoughts, China Academy of Art.

GONG Xu (b.1986, Shanghai)

Gong Xu was born in Shanghai in 1986. He graduated from the Affiliated Senior High School of the China Academy of Art (CAA) in 2006, and received a Bachelor’s degree from CAA’s Oil Painting Department in 2010. His first solo exhibition, The Flight of Birds and Crawling of Snakes, was held in Beijing in 2012, followed by Zodiac Explosion at OCAT Xi’an in 2015. Gong Xu fuses traditional Chinese elements with references to pop culture to create a unique narrative in his works.

ZHU Xi (b.1983, Shanghai)

Zhu Xi was born in Shanghai in 1983. He graduated from the Shanghai Arts and Crafts College in 2002, and went on to complete a Bachelor’s degree in the Department of Comprehensive Art of China Academy of Art (CAA) in 2006, as well as a Master’s degree from the CAA’s School of Intermedia Art in 2012. Zhu’s solo exhibition Song of the Conqueror was held in Macau in 2011, followed by his show Cold Rhyme (Beijing, 2013). His artworks consist of installation and painting, and employ a narrative language of symbols to allow for a remarkable level of clarity in storytelling, with a strong poetic element.

FENG Chen (b. 1986, Wuhan)

Feng Chen was born in Wuhan, Hubei province in 1986, and is currently based in Amsterdam. He graduated from the China Academy of Art in 2009. In his works, Feng Chen experiments with the use of different materials in an attempt to capture and concretize the way humans experience perception and sensation, and at the same time he seeks to create a new visual logic that will open the narrative of human sensory experience. Feng’s works have been exhibited internationally, and are included in a number of institutional collections, including the White Rabbit Contemporary Chinese Art Collection in Australia and the Shanghai Art Museum.

HONG Dan (b.1982, Pujiang)

Hong Dan was born in Pujiang, Zhejiang Province in 1982. He graduated from the College of Fine Arts of Zhejiang Normal University in 2004 with a Bachelor’s degree in oil painting. In 2014 he received a Master’s degree from the Fifth Studio, Department of Oil Painting of the China Academy of Art. Hong is currently a lecturer in the Department of Animation, Zhejiang University of Media and Communication. His work merges calligraphic brushwork and collage to create non-semantic ink forms, delivering a contemporary interpretation of Chinese literati painting.

SHAO Wenhuan (b.1974, Hetian)

Shao Wenhuan was born in Hetian, Xinjiang in 1974, and is based in Hangzhou. He is currently a lecturer in the Department of Photography at the China Academy of Art. Shao’s practice involves the use of extensive painting in the post-production of photographic works, blending the techniques of traditional photography and painting to form a new language to create and present images.

TONG Yixin (b. 1988, Lushan)

Tong Yixin was born in Lushan, Jiangxi Province in 1988. He received a Master’s degree in Studio Art from New York University in 2014, and is currently based in New York. Tong creates a narrative that is simultaneously poetic and absurd, using multimedia installation, site-specific projects, Internet art, music and writing, exploring the contradictory notion of romanticism in a time dominated by rationalism and capital.

About Art Bureau of Investigation (ABI)

Art Bureau of Investigation (ABI) is a research-based academic society founded in 2015, which focuses on contemporary art study. Its working methodology harnesses the expertise of internationally renowned cultural scholars and the energy and insight of young scholars in a relationship of mentorship and collaborative work, engaging in the research and exploration of a series of issues associated with contemporary art. Areas of investigation include contemporary art in the context of urbanization; art education; art collecting and investment; art and science; art and the social-political economy; and the ethics and emotional language of art, etc.

ABI aims to mobilize the expertise and analytical power of scholars across diverse disciplines, including philosophy, iconology, archaeology, psychology, architecture and space design, as well as to invite the participation of interdisciplinary investigators engaged in literature, mediology, political economy, medical science and journalism to work together in addressing and seeking solutions to problems confronting contemporary art in today’s society.

In order to provide an appropriate solution to clarify the relationship between primary territory, sub-territory and social matrix, this organization attempts to inspire every individual researcher to effectively reason, analyze, and discuss complex problems. Not only does it take text as the carrier of action, it also seeks to make a contribution to the extension of contemporary art research by implementing relevant and concrete art plans and projects. Projects which have already been initiated to date include ATLAS – Art Tour Project, INLAYING GOLD – Research Project of Emerging Artists, and “MEETING” – Educational Lecture Project of Contemporary Art Collection.

ABI membership currently includes over fifty Chinese scholars based all over the world, and invites the participation of foreign scholars. Through expansion of its project base and further building its communication platform, ABI will link cultural resources from different times and places with the aim of making a greater contribution to cultural practice and popularization.

Interpretation of ABI from SONG Zhenxi

ABI is composed of a number of volunteer scholars of diverse backgrounds whose work examines and engages with the current situation of contemporary art using different academic perspectives and methodologies. It does not aim to achieve so-called ‘academic authority’ or ‘cultural elitism’, nor does it rely on any particular ‘academic schools of thought’ or ‘culturally influential’ entities. Its goal is neither to produce ‘high-end’ results from ‘high-end academic circles’ nor to construct esoteric theoretical structures. Rather, ABI’s purpose is to act as a landing unit which grounds action in the circumstances of reality, and its goal is to realistically and concretely coordinate academic results with the needs of society, culture and contemporary art. ABI’s activities are never far from public and social reality. Its members hope that their activities can cut to the vital areas of contemporary art to investigate and resolve the problems therein. In this organization, participants can feel free to represent their own viewpoints, to build teams, and to establish projects. Final implementation of proposed projects is enacted after discussion, modification and incorporation with outside resources. To transform the current situation of contemporary art, we cannot rely on the academy, capital or authority. Although it will take time for implementation and evaluation, it is our firm belief that ABI’s vision and the projects that emerge from the trans-boundary collaboration, common goals and faith of its member scholars will act as a single spark that can start a constructive fire in the contemporary art world.


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