Two images side by side. On the left is a kimono made out of dyed silk crepe fabric depicting different recurring scenes related to war. On the right are six lamps hanging from coloured cords attached to the same outlet. Each lamp consists of a plastic bottle with most of its body covered by a woven textile basket-like lamp shade, each with different shapes, colours, and patterns.

Meet the Oldest and Newest Design and Architecture Works in the M+ Collections

How did you two meet? is a ‘recipe’ for a public programme from The Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) in Montreal. The CCA invited us to put our own spin on this recipe at M+. Our How did you two meet? recipe goes like this: pick the oldest and newest objects in the M+ Collections (out of those available on the M+ Collections Beta), and narrate a story that connects them.

Two curators from M+’s Design and Architecture team took on this challenge in an online programme. Lead curator Ikko Yokoyama explored the potential relationship between two design objects, and curator Shirley Surya examined the connection between two architectural works. Below, we share their results.

Video interview in which Samson Young discusses his work ‘Muted Situations #22: Muted Tchaikovsky’s 5th’ as part of the Sigg Prize 2019 exhibition.

A Chat with Samson Young, Winner of the Inaugural Sigg Prize

The Sigg Prize is a biennial award that recognises artists born or working in the Greater China region. The inaugural Sigg Prize 2019 exhibition, which was held at the M+ Pavilion through 17 May, featured work by the six artists shortlisted for the prize: Hu Xiaoyuan, Liang Shuo, Lin Yilin, Shen Xin, Tao Hui, and Samson Young.

On 13 May, the prize’s international jury announced the winner: Samson Young, for his work Muted Situations #22: Muted Tchaikovsky’s 5th (2018). To create this spatial sound installation, Young collaborated with Cologne’s Flora Sinfonie Orchester, instructing the members of the orchestra to mute their instruments and drawing attention to the other sounds musicians make during a performance.

We chat with Young about his Muted Situations series, his experience making this work, and his practice as a whole.

Close-up on a golden, wrinkly, sphere-shaped object encased in yellowish raw silk. The silk is covered in miniscule black dots.

A Focus on Materiality in Contemporary Chinese Art

What is materiality, and why is it important? How has the materiality of art shifted across time and culture?

All art is made up of materials. To focus on the materiality of an artwork, however, is to emphasise the material qualities that it consists of. In contemporary art, materials are often the foundation of the work; not just used as a tool to convey an idea or emotion but embodying the subject matter of the work itself. Materials can evoke social class and cultural traditions, and can even be intangible and abstract, as is the case with sound—and the removal of it.

Below, Pi Li, Sigg Senior Curator, Visual Art, analyses the materiality of three works in the Sigg Prize 2019 Exhibition: from bamboo scaffolding, to sound, to raw silk.

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Clip from a soundless monochrome film. A man on crutches walks in front of a protest crowd holding a large banner. The man and the crowd appear to be yelling slogans.

The Story of Chi Xiaoning and His Smuggled Camera

This is a story about underground film-making, radical art, and censorship. In 1979, Chi Xiaoning created his Film of Star Group Activities of 1979. It is the only known video documenting the radical activities of the Stars Group, an avant-garde group of artists from China who championed individuality and freedom of expression. The only copy of the footage is in the M+ Collections.

Below, film-maker Andy Cohen, whose 2020 film Beijing Spring showcases portions of the footage, tells the story behind Chi Xiaoning’s daring film-making during a period that was still subject to severe censorship in favour of official propaganda art. Beijing Spring will be showcased as part of an upcoming M+ Screenings programme.

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