NEW YORK—The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum presents One Hand Clapping, a group exhibition of newly commissioned works by Cao Fei, Duan Jianyu, Lin Yilin, Wong Ping, and Samson Young. The exhibition is the third of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative, a research, curatorial, and collections-building program begun in 2013. On view from May 4 through October 21, 2018, One Hand Clapping will be accompanied by a catalogue and public and educational programming.
The artists in One Hand Clapping explore our changing relationship with the future. Produced in both new and traditional mediums—from virtual reality technology to oil on canvas—their commissioned works challenge visions of a global, homogeneous, and technocratic future. On Tower Level 5, Wong Ping creates a multimedia installation centered on a colorful, racy animated tale that explores the tension between an aging population and the relentless pace of a digital economy; in her paintings and sculptures, Duan Jianyu depicts a surreal, transitory place where the rural meets the urban; and Lin Yilin constructs a virtual-reality simulation featuring a professional basketball star, testing the potential for using technology to inhabit the experience of another. On Tower Level 7, Cao Fei examines the new realities and potential crisis driven by automation and robotics at some of China’s most advanced storage and distribution facilities, and Samson Young reflects on our obsession with ritual and authenticity through a sonic and sculptural environment of imaginary musical instruments and their digitally engineered sounds.
The exhibition title One Hand Clapping is derived from a koan—riddles used in Zen Buddhist practice to challenge logical reasoning—that asks, “We know the sound of two hands clapping. But what is the sound of one hand clapping?” Emerging from a tradition that originates in China’s Tang period (618–907), the phrase “one hand clapping” encompasses a history of cross-cultural translation and appropriation that continues into the present, from its citation as the epigraph to J. D. Salinger’s Nine Stories (1953) to its referencing in the titles of a Cantopop song and an Australian film and the name of a British band. In this light, “one hand clapping” becomes a metaphor for the processes by which meaning is fabricated, transmitted, and restated in a globalized world. The image of “one hand clapping” also suggests connotations of solitude and the ability of artists to put forth a singular perspective and to challenge prevailing beliefs, stereotypes, and conventional power structures.
One Hand Clapping is organized by Xiaoyu Weng, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Associate Curator of Chinese Art, and Hou Hanru, Consulting Curator, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative. Kyung An, Assistant Curator, Asian Art, provides curatorial support. The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative is part of the Guggenheim’s Asian Art Initiative, directed by Alexandra Munroe, Samsung Senior Curator, Asian Art, and Senior Advisor, Global Arts.
“The work of the artists in this third iteration of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative epitomizes the fresh artistic energy coming out of Greater China and fosters deeper perspectives on the art of our time,” said Richard Armstrong, Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation. “We are deeply grateful to Robert H. N. Ho, Founder, and Robert Y. C. Ho, Chairman, for their vision in advancing this ambitious venture and their enthusiasm and dedication to furthering the scholarship, innovation, and accessibility of the art and culture of Greater China.”
“The Chinese Art Initiative seeks to support the Guggenheim’s vision for contemporary art, which reaches beyond the confines of geographical and cultural boundaries. It engages Chinese artists and their creativity in diverse contexts, acknowledging the complexity of contemporary art practice as a global phenomenon,” said Robert Y. C. Ho, Chairman, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation. “The Guggenheim has built upon its expertise to integrate the voices of the Chinese artists into multiple discourses. Through the creative endeavors of both the artists and the museum, we encourage meaningful interactions with various art perspectives as well as deeper thinking about the intrinsic value of art in today’s globalized world.”
“Through The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative, we have sought to challenge, deconstruct, and redefine ideas of ‘contemporary Chinese art’ and to present some of the most thoughtful and provocative artworks being made today,” said Xiaoyu Weng. “For this concluding phase of the initiative, we invited these five artists to think with us about how art that imagines the future also reflects our understanding of the present and the past. Shaped by the artists’ bold imaginations, sharp social critique, and humor, their newly created works encourage and inspire possibilities for a future art to come.”