Far West explored the consumer and cultural relationships and the effect of globalisation on aspects of popular culture.
Xu Bing / David Blandy / Liu Ding / Cao Fei / Gunilla Klingberg /Surasi Kusolwong / Michael Lin / Maverick Press / Yoko Ono / Janek Simon / SOI Project / Support Structure / Seven Samurai
Combining elements of a gallery, shop, factory and market, the exhibition transformed our Project Space, a former retail venue, into an interactive concept store featuring work by artists from China, Japan, Taiwan and Thailand, as well as Europe and the US.
The idea of the so-called 'experience economy' - in which commercial companies sell experiences as well as goods - has gained increasing currency in recent years. Inspired by this idea, as well as parallel debates in art and commerce around participation, individualism, authorship and productivity, Far West invited visitors to take part in the production process or purchase one of a range of goods, from cheap, mass produced items to unique artist-designed objects.
Issues of participation and exchange were brought to the fore in SOI projects' Fruits, in which paper fruit patterns could be assembled and added to the exhibition display in exchange for actual fruit, and Yoko Ono's Mend Piece for Merry England - an invitation to donate and assemble broken crockery fragments in exchange for a symbolic gift.
The trade in goods between East and West was highlighted in Surasi Kusolwong's 1 Pound Shop in which kitsch, mass produced items sourced from Thai market stalls were available for purchase at the flat rate of £1 each.
In from the ‘Bank of Hell’, by Maverick Press with artist Melanie Jackson, a Hong Kong Joss shop displayed beautifully crafted paper replicas of everyday consumer objects designed to be burnt with incense as offerings for ancestors.
Artists were involved in many aspects of the exhibition's theatrical design, from Xu Bing's Far West logo, to Michael Lin's decorative wallpaper and Gunilla Klingberg's hallucinogenic pattern of supermarket logos which covered the entrance windows. The exhibition furniture was specially designed by Miessen & Ploughfield Architects.
Funded by The Arts Council England - Grants for The Arts and The British Council - Connections Through Culture. Far West was produced in partnership with Arnolfini, Bristol and the Long March, Beijing. www.farwest.cn