Wang Youshen's art is characterised by a focus on the influence mass media exerts on our thoughts, emotions, and actions. For example, the mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion, which are determined by value judgments if never explicitly stated. In his photograph-based images, Wang Youshen uses selected press images alongside private photos as the basis of his investigation into the various functions and values of images as well as their truth content and modes of employment. Having worked as a magazine editor, Wang Youshen is particularly concerned about the power of print imagery. This is directly reflected in his work Newspaper (1993), where he uses newspaper as raw material, both covering entire walls and printing them directly onto fabric for clothing. In a similar project called Newspaper Advertising (1993), he covered the Chinese wall with newspaper. By reusing the printed media in an entirely new context, Wang Youshen subverts and questions its original meaning.Read More
In a recent, almost monochromatic series of photographic work entitled Washing (2003), his focal points are two original photographs documenting tens of thousands of Chinese buried alive by Japanese troops during the Second World War. One of the pictures depicts a scene where some remains from the burial site have been washed off. Wang Youshen uses the symbolic act of washing to reflect upon the question of washing that can be understood both as a form of catharsis and as a form of amnesia; a cleansing of memory. Wang Youshen's visual experiments mirror his intent to develop a form of artistic communication that recognises the necessarily fragmentary nature of any media. He therefore rejects the notion of reducing the work to a single coherent narrative. In an interview for the 2006 Bienal de Sao Paulo Wang Youshen explained his ideas concerning the media: 'The media experience is really an experience in itself. Our cognition, everything encompasses the media. All is media and for me it has a twofold meaning: it concerns me, as the media is not only my occupational work, but also my artistic tool. I take the media as the basic information carrier, the main body which indicates information processing and art. The works Darkroom and Washing, accomplished since 1989 and continuously, have been excavating the media image resources which news conveys as images.'
Wang Youshen was born in Beijing in 1964. He graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing. He resides and works in Beijing. Recent exhibitions include WANG-YOUSHEN, Double Solo Exhibition, U.S.A. (2013); The Seventh Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale, Accidental Message: Art is Not a System, Not a World, OCAT, Shenzhen (2012); Reshaping History: Chinart from 200-2009, The Theme, China National Convention Center, Beijing (2010); Lianzhou International Photo Festival, Lianzhou, Guangdong (2009); Wang Youshen, Washing, Kwai Fung Hin Art Gallery, Hong Kong (2007); the 27th Bienal de Sao Paulo, Brazil (2006); Zooming into Focus, National Art Museum of China (Beijing, 2005); Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China, (U.S.A., U.K. and Germany, 2004-2005); 5th Shanghai Biennale: Techniques of the Visible, Shanghai Art Museum (2004); Washing – New Works by Wang Youshen, ShanghART Gallery, Shanghai (2004) and 45th Venice Biennale, Italy (1993).
Text courtesy ShanghART.
The group show Working on History at Museum für Fotografie (Museum for Photography) in Berlin was an ambitious undertaking that examined 20th-century history, particularly that of China, through the photographic lens. With a stunning assemblage of 18 artists and helmed by renowned museum director Ludger Derenthal, CAFAM director Wang Huangshen...
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