Plug us to the power
And begin the lingering of your body
Listen to me
Listen to him
Nothing is new under the sun
——Tao Hui, Speakers in The Square, 2022
Commissioned and supported by Aranya Art Center and The Chapel of Sound, Aranya Jinshanling
Aranya Art Center and the Chapel of Sound, Aranya Jinshanling are delighted to present the solo exhibition Speakers in TheSquare by Chinese artist, Tao Hui, featuring his latest eponymous sound installation commissioned by the two institutions. This is the first presentation of a long-term contemporary art exhibition program focusing on the medium of “sound”, curated by Aranya Art Center and held at the Chapel ofSound, Aranya Jinshanling.
Seven speakers are placed in the audience seating area of a semi-open-air amphitheater in an irregular and yet orderly manner. They are bestowed with the ability to converse, whispering intermittently in the cacophony of the storm and music their sentiments of being tools. In the square, just like how human beings employ their bodies and movements to establish their stage, the speakers mobilize their physical presence and utterance to expand their frontiers. In city life, the square has always been an indispensable space for emotional display, where people communicate and interact with each other. In contemporary Chinese society, speakers often play a prominent role in activities happening in the square, from square dancing to street performances. Granting these tools a first-person voice and perspective, the work disrupts the conventional dichotomic relationships between the subject and the object, between the stage and the auditorium, to conjure up a brand-new emotional experience and social bond.
The architectural design of the Chapel draws on the myth of a celestial stone falling upon the earth, generating tension between nature and artificiality as it seeks to balance the two. Speakers in The Square brings “the square” into the valley in the form of sounds. City and valley, performance and audience, these entities constantly transform within the realm delineated by sound waves. The instrumental music in this work is composed by Li Daiguo, a pioneer in Chinese contemporary experimental music, with the vocals and dialogues performed by Wang Jiayi, Zhi Hui, Hou Yu, Jiang Ruoyu and Luo Yudan.
Speakers in The Square is open to public from October 26th, 2022 through May 14th, 2023. Reservations are required. This exhibition is organized by Damien Zhang, Director of Aranya Art Center, along with curatorial assistant Jiaming Wang. In the meantime, Tao Hui’s first retrospective solo exhibition, Searing Pain, is currently on view at Aranya Art Center, Beidaihe New Area, Qinhuangdao through February 5th, 2023.
Tao Hui was born in 1987 in the mountain village of Yunyang near Chongqing, China, and now lives and works in Beijing. Drawing inspiration from personal memories, television, and popular culture, Tao distills and weaves them into experimental visual narratives and film styles. Running throughout his practice is a sense of misplacement, explored through such subjects as social identity, gender, ethnicity, and cultural crisis. He sets up absurd, paradoxical, and melodramatic scenes with characters brimming with metaphor. Tao reveals our shared contemporary experiences and prompts us to face our own cultural histories, living conditions, and subjectivities.
Solo exhibitions include: OCAT Xi’an, Xi’an, China, 2017. UCCA, Beijing, China, 2015. Selected group exhibitions include: re-IMAGE-n, The 4th Vancouver Biennale, Vancouver, Canada, 2019. 11th Shanghai Biennale, PSA, Shanghai, China, 2016. Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, France, 2016. In 2015, Tao received the grand prize of the 19th Contemporary Art Festival Sesc Videobrasil; in the same year, he won the grand jury prize of Contemporary Art Archive from Art Sanya & Huayu Youth Award.
The Chapel of Sound, Aranya Jinshanling
Aranya Jinshanling is located between Miyun, Beijing and Chengde, Hebei Province, about 120 kilometers away from downtown Beijing. This represents the perfect distance from the city, neither too far nor too close, and the proper distance between commotion and tranquility, between materialism and spirituality. The Chapel is designed by OPEN Architecture, with a total surface area of 775 square meters and a height of 13 meters. The main structure is constructed with massive stones in the shape of a reversed cone, including an indoor semi-open-air amphitheater, an outdoor stage, a mountain view terrace, and an underground service area. The open-cave design merges the acoustic system with natural resonance, blending scenic views of the sky and surrounding valleys, and subtle sounds of nature into the Chapel’s space.