Video still in which workers wearing blue shirts and sitting on either side of a production line in a factory hold different vaguely dance-like poses. One woman in the foreground reaches for a cardboard box in the production line while the man next to her stretches his arm in an exaggerated motion to affix something to a white object.

What Is the ‘Expanded Field’ of Contemporary Design?

What is design ‘in the expanded field’? Below, Noel Cheung, M+ Curatorial Assistant, Design and Architecture, explains this concept through two works by Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen.

***

London-based artists Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen’s practice explores a contemporary culture of design, technology, and biology through experimental ‘fictional’ projects. Their work investigates the roles of art and design today and directly addresses relevant social and cultural issues, from fragmented labour and modes of manufacturing in Asia, to resource extraction and ecological conservation.

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.

***

Video still showing a hollow in the ground shaped like a human silhouette with outstretched arms. It is filled with red liquid.

From Earth to Ink: How Performance Artists Use Their Bodies in Their Work

Performance art is an art form that makes use of time and the human body (or bodies) to express a feeling or idea. Works of performance art can be carried out almost anywhere by anyone, can be public or private, and can rely on scripted or unscripted actions.

While all forms of performance art involve bodies in one way or another, some performance artists draw particular attention to their own bodies. A loose movement of body-related performance art emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, pioneered by artists who placed their own bodies at the forefront of their art.

One of the artists who experimented with this type of art during this period was Ana Mendieta. She is best known for her ‘earth-body’ works, in which she focuses on a connection between her body and the earth. Right now, you can see a selection of Mendieta’s body performance pieces at Five Artists: Sites Encountered in the M+ Pavilion.

Oil painting on canvas depicting two ping pong paddles, one red and one blue, and a white ping pong ball lying spread out on a bright green surface. The blue paddle is only barely visible in the bottom left corner of the painting, while the red paddle and white ball lie close together near the top right corner.

How Artists Use Colour to Communicate

The new M+ Collections Beta website lets you explore over 5,000 objects and archival items from the M+ Collections online. As a ‘beta website’, it will grow and evolve over the coming years, as we explore new ways to let you discover and roam through the collections. One of the ways you can already do that on the website is through colour, using the new colour picker feature.

Apart from being a fun way to discover new works, this feature can also help illuminate some of the ways that colour theory can influence our understandings of artworks and objects. Below, we give a quick introduction to colour theory 101, and how artists and makers can use colour in their work, using some examples from the M+ Collections that you can find on the beta website.

The Colour Wheel