The Spiral of Spectacle: The Image Bank of Wang Guofeng

Title: The Spiral of Spectacle: The Image Bank of Wang Guofeng

Artist: Wang Guofeng

Curator: Xiaoyan Yang & Steven Dragonn

Date: April 8 to May 27, 2023

Opening Reception: Saturday April 8, 12-6pm

As a significant study in communication, the “spiral of silence” coined by German communication scholar Noelle Löhmann in 1974 is a brilliant analysis of the ‘silent masses’ phenomenon under Nazi Germany. Curator Yang Xiaoyan finds this theory also locates perfectly in Wang Guofeng‘s North Korea series.

From the spectator’s point of view, Wang’s North Korea series can be seen as a decoding process, as the objects are undifferentiated and individualities are obliterated, except the special one in performance. This decoding process is as in-depth as a spiral. The spectacle in view is itself silent. A silence spiral out and is encoded as an undifferentiated whole. The image practice of Wang Guofeng is a double spiral process, using his precise grain to decode the subject in spectatorship repeatedly. And he must do so in such a way that the object encoded in a totalitarian manner can then be ‘automatically’ rendered. The Spiral of Spectacle is a manifestation of the representation of the silent ant-like masses, which becomes an undifferentiated sign of presence.

Wang Guofeng states, “I have always avoided being confined by the notion of photography within my practice but emphasizing the “image as a medium”. Many Wang’s serial works are computer generated. The camera is only used to capture contents for his image bank, and subsequent computer editing is needed to finalize the body of work. Although Wang’s image appears to be a documentary, what lies behind it is a manipulation of the spectacle, which implicitly points to the nature of the subject in view.

This exhibition is part of the 2023 Capture Photography Festival Selected Exhibitions Program.

About the Artist
Wang Guofeng is a contemporary visual artist. He was recognized as one of the Top 15 Asian Contemporary Photographers by the International Photography Award (IPA 2017), named“Artist of the Year – Photography” for 8th Award of Art China (AAC 2014), received Honorary Award for the Moscow International Foto Award (MIFA 2014), and shortlisted for “ING Real Photography Award”(2007). He was born in 1967, Liaoning, currently lives and works in Beijing.

He participated in a number of important exhibitions worldwide, including “Ties & Accompaniment” Eunam Museum of Art, Gwangju, Korea(2022); “Rhythm and Refrain” Song Museum of Art, Beijing(2022); “Apocalypse of Yesterday” Ginkgo Space, Beijing(2022); “Border Crossings” Museum of Fine Arts Bern, Switzerland(2021); “Havana Biennale 2019”, Cuba(2019); “Spectacle Absolute – Special Exhibition of the 2018 Gwangju Biennale”, Gwangju, Korea(2018); “Bric- à-brac” The National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, Rome, Italy(2018); “(Im)possible to see: North Korea” The Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography, Moscow, Russia(2017); “NK Project” Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA), Korea(2015); “Familiar Otherness – Art Across Northeast Asia” Hong Kong Arts Center(2015); “Unfamiliar Asia” The 2nd Beijing International Photo Biennale (2015); China Contemporary Photography 2009-2014, Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum (2014); “Ctrl+N – Non-Linear Practice”, 2012 Gwangju Biennale Special Exhibition, Gwangju, Korea (2012); Contemporary Art of China and Japan, Busan Museum of Art, Busan, Korea (2010); “Ideological Manifesto – The 2nd Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art” Moscow Museum of Modern Art (MMoMA) (2007); The 6th Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China (2006); “Time after Time”, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2003); “New Zone: Chinese Art” Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland(2002); “When Latitudes Become Forms: Art in a Global Age”, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, US (2002); “The 2nd Seoul International Media Art Biennale” Media City Seoul 2002, Seoul Museum of Art.

Further Reading:

We know they are watching you, you know they are, and they know that you know // Wang Guofeng at Canton-Sardine | By Kristin Man | May 2023