Feng Mengbo

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Feng Mengbo

Article

Art as a game

Sweeping economic, political and ideological changes have taken place in the last couple of decades in the People´s Republic of China – changes to which especially young, westernised artists like Feng Mengbo, born in 1966 in Beijing, are reacting. Feng Mengbo has been working since the early 90s with digital media which he renders alien by using a western-eastern mixture of motifs ranging from the MGM-logo via the heroes of the cultural revolution to figures from Hong Kong action-films.
For about two decades the People´s Republic of China has been subject to sweeping changes. The introduction of new technology, mainly in towns and cities, the economic shift towards a market economy and the influence of world-wide globalisation are changing the land and the people at a dizzying pace. Especially young artists in China are trying to come to terms with these changes in their surroundings. Between the poles of Chinese traditions on the one hand and the increasing influence of western culture on the other, they often work on the artistic fringe, experimenting with paintings and installations, with video and photography.

Feng Mengbo, born in Beijing in 1966, has been working with a mixture of digital media, painting and photography. At the opening of the exhibition ´Configura 2 – Dialogue of Cultures´ in Erfurt in 1995, he described his artistic ideal in the following words: ´I would like my works to be a kind of game. There should be a lively image, and there should be tumult. Many faces and tales should look familiar...´ To achieve this, he moves between various cultural magnets, combining video-games with scenes from the time of the cultural revolution under Mao, or combining CD-ROMs with images from Hong Kong action films.

In the partly autobiographical and partly fictive video ´My Private Album´ he uses the tale of a big family to present Chinese history and culture over several generations. In ´Taking Mt. Doom by Strategy´ he combines the vicious video-game ´Doom´ with 48 clips from the revolutionary opera ´Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy´. From the official, romantically idealised image of the cultural revolution little remains, when Mao´s greeting from the rostrum to the marching masses is cut into a close-up of a taxi, which he seems to be hailing for a get-away. Ironically Mengbo highlights the virtual nature of these newly juxtaposed images, in roaring in place of the tiger in the MGM-logo.

At Documenta 11 in Kassel, this Chinese artist invited visitors to take part in a video-game. His installation ´Q4U´ was based on the Shareware-version of the prohibited game ´Quake III Arena´. Whoever walked into the room with the caution ´Entry only for Adults´ stood in front of three big projection screens of the same shape and size, which were all part of the computer-game. Mengbo had developed a version for several players, who could slip into the identity of the artist, who had put himself with naked torso and US army-trousers – into the game´s matrix. He also embodied the foe, who is fired at not only by players but also by his own numerous doubles.

The interactive nature of the game gave it a new dimension and made it an image of the continual strife between the artist, his alter-egos and viewers. These tried, by clicking the mouse, to hit and kill the artist whizzing by. At the end of the game, the number of hits were totalled up, and most players began then, at the latest, to feel shaken at the fun of the massacre, though perhaps with the consolation of seeing that other players, too, had fallen victim to this sophisticated, thrilling and critical game. ´Q4U´ worked on several levels, as a criticism of an entertainment industry rampant with fantasies of violence and as a pointer towards loss of communication, with mutual killing as the residual form of human contact.

(Translation: Phil Stanway)
Author: n.a

Bio

1966: born in Beijing in China

1985: Design Department of the Beijing School of Arts & Crafts

1991: Printmaking Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing

The artist lives and works in Beijing in China.

Works

Documenta 11, Kassel, Germany

Exhibition / Installation,
2002
Group Exhibition

Q4U, The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, Chicago, USA

Exhibition / Installation,
2002

Polypolis: Art From Asian Pacific Megacities, Kunsthaus, Hamburg, Germany

Exhibition / Installation,
2001
Group exhibition

Living In Time, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Germany

Exhibition / Installation,
2001
Group exhibition

Tirana Biennale 1, National Gallery; Chinese Pavilion, Tirana, Albania

Exhibition / Installation,
2001
Group exhibition

Paintings by Feng Mengbo, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hongkong

Exhibition / Installation,
2001

A Sparkling City: 2000, Taipei County Art and Technology Exhibition, Taipei

Exhibition / Installation,
2000
Group exhibition

Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany

Exhibition / Installation,
1999
Group Exhibition

The 1st Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale 1999, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan

Exhibition / Installation,
1999

Asia Pacific Art Triennale/MAAP99, Brisbane

Exhibition / Installation,
1999
Group exhibition

Zeitwenden, Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Wien

Exhibition / Installation,
1999
Group exhibition

ISEA98 (the 9th International Symposium on Electronic Art): Revolution 98, Liverpool, Great Britain.

Exhibition / Installation,
1998

ISEA98 (the 9th International Symposium on Electronic Art): Revolution98, Liverpool, Great Britain

Exhibition / Installation,
1998
Group exhibition

Shoot At The Chaos, SPIRAL/Wocal Art Center, Tokyo

Exhibition / Installation,
1998
Group exhibition

Feng Mengbo, Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, N.Y., USA

Exhibition / Installation,
1998

Feng Mengbo: Video Games, The Patrick and Beatrice Haggerty Museum of Art, Milwaukee, Minnesota, USA

Exhibition / Installation,
1998

In Between Limited, Sonje Museum of Contemporary Art, Kwangju, Corea.

Exhibition / Installation,
1997

Art Focus – Jerusalem Foundation, Israel.

Exhibition / Installation,
1997

Wäinö Aaltosen Museo, Turku, Finland.

Exhibition / Installation,
1997

Remote Connections, København Museum for Modern Art, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Exhibition / Installation,
1997

Die anderen Modernen, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany.

Exhibition / Installation,
1997

Kwangju Biennale, Kwangju, Corea.

Exhibition / Installation,
1997

Documenta X, Kassel, Germany.

Exhibition / Installation,
1997

Biennale de Lyon d’art contemporain, Institut d’Art Contemporain, France.

Exhibition / Installation,
1997

2nd Johannesburg Biennial, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Exhibition / Installation,
1997

In Between Limited, Sonje Museum of Contemporary Art, Kwangju, Corea

Exhibition / Installation,
1997
Group exhibition

Art Focus – Jerusalem Foundation, Israel

Exhibition / Installation,
1997
Group exhibition

Wäinö Aaltosen Museo, Turku, Finland

Exhibition / Installation,
1997
Group exhibition

Remote Connections, København Museum for Modern Art, Copenhagen, Denmark

Exhibition / Installation,
1997
Group exhibition

Die anderen Modernen, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany

Exhibition / Installation,
1997
Group exhibition

Biennale de Lyon d’art contemporain, Institut d’Art Contemporain, France

Exhibition / Installation,
1997
Group exhibition

Documenta X, Kassel, Germany

Exhibition / Installation,
1997
Group exhibition

2nd Johannesburg Biennial, Johannesburg, South Africa

Exhibition / Installation,
1997
Group exhibition

Kwangju Biennale, Kwangju, Corea

Exhibition / Installation,
1997
Group exhibition

Pop Art China – Pop Art America, Galerie Wild, Frankfurt, Germany.

Exhibition / Installation,
1996

Remote Connections, Neue Galerie, Graz, Austria.

Exhibition / Installation,
1996

Art Forum Berlin, Germany.

Exhibition / Installation,
1996

Reckoning with the Past – Contemporary Chinese Painting, The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, Great Britain.

Exhibition / Installation,
1996

Pop Art China – Pop Art America, Galerie Wild, Frankfurt, Germany

Exhibition / Installation,
1996
Group exhibition

Remote Connections, Neue Galerie, Graz, Austria

Exhibition / Installation,
1996
Group exhibition

Art Forum Berlin, Germany

Exhibition / Installation,
1996
Group exhibition

Reckoning with the Past – Contemporary Chinese Painting, The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, Great Britain

Exhibition / Installation,
1996
Group exhibition

Out Of The Middle Kingdom, Santa Monica, Barcelona, Spain.

Exhibition / Installation,
1995

Configura 2 (Dialog der Kulturen), Erfurt, Germany.

Exhibition / Installation,
1995

Visions of Happiness (Ten Asian Contemporary Artists), Tokyo, Japan.

Exhibition / Installation,
1995

Kwangju Biennale, Kwangju, Corea.

Exhibition / Installation,
1995

Out Of The Middle Kingdom, Santa Monica, Barcelona, Spain

Exhibition / Installation,
1995
Group exhibition

Configura 2 (Dialog der Kulturen), Erfurt, Germany

Exhibition / Installation,
1995
Group exhibition

Visions of Happiness (Ten Asian Contemporary Artists), Tokyo, Japan

Exhibition / Installation,
1995
Group exhibition

Kwangju Biennale, Kwangju, Corea

Exhibition / Installation,
1995
Group exhibition

New Art from China, Post-1989, Marlborough Gallery, London, Great Britain.

Exhibition / Installation,
1994

New Art from China, Post-1989, Marlborough Gallery, London, Great Britain

Exhibition / Installation,
1994
Group exhibition

Game Over: Long March, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hongkong

Exhibition / Installation,
1994

Mao Goes Pop, Melbourne, Australia.

Exhibition / Installation,
1993

China´s New Art, Post-1989, Hong Kong Arts Festival and Taipei, China.

Exhibition / Installation,
1993

La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy.

Exhibition / Installation,
1993

Mao Goes Pop, Melbourne, Australia

Exhibition / Installation,
1993
Group exhibition

China´s New Art, Post-1989, Hong Kong Arts Festival and Taipei, China

Exhibition / Installation,
1993
Group exhibition

La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy

Exhibition / Installation,
1993
Group exhibition

Art Asia, Hong Kong.

Exhibition / Installation,
1992

Art Asia, Hong Kong

Exhibition / Installation,
1992
Group exhibition

Projects

This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.

The other Modernism

Contemporary Art from Africa, Asia & Latin America

(08 May 97 - 27 July 97)

Www

artist´s website

artist´s gallery in China

images
Feng Mengbo
My private album (Ausschnitt)
Feng Mengbo
Q4U_200201.TGA