76 Grand Street
The gallery space was filled with 101 night stools (Chinese chamber pots), which Chen Zhen and his friends purchased on the streets of Shanghai. The night stools were suspended like bells from a stadium-like structure reminiscent of an ancient Chinese musical instrument. In the corner of the structure was a large globe completely covered with old radios, televisions, telephones, and other debris of electronic communication. Speakers installed inside each of the night stools played the sound of the ritual cleaning of the stools that Chinese women traditionally perform every day.
Daily Incantations was inspired by the artist’s personal experience in Shanghai during the Cultural Revolution. “Every morning on my way to school,” the artist recalled, “I would hear the sound of the washing of the night stools. As I entered the schoolroom, I would hear the sound of the ‘daily incantations,’ the communal reading from Chairman Mao’s Red Book that was intended to cleanse the soul.”
The cleaning of the night stools was a traditional part of the daily life of the city. The government demanded the recitation of incantations from the Red Book. The double incantation of everyday ritual and the ritual recitations of “sacred” text create a juxtaposition that characterizes the complex relationship between traditional and contemporary Chinese life. According to Chen, “The old, Shanghai-style night stool is symbolic of the social shifts taking place in China today. Its gradual disappearance is linked to the invasion of foreign culture into China and the new gentrified metropolitan culture with its new buildings of Western style. The night stool remains a symbol of the poverty and regression of the old Shanghai. In transporting approximately one hundred night stools from Shanghai to New York, I wanted to bring to the West traditional Chinese objects that it is making obsolete.”
March 8 - 11, 2018
We will present a special solo project by the artist JR.
Image: JR, Migrants, Walking New York City, 2015
April - May 2018
18 Wooster Street
76 Grand Street
New York, NY 10013
Monday – Friday
10 AM – 6 PM
Tuesday – Saturday
Noon – 6 PM
The gallery reopens with People in April 2018.
+1 (212) 343-7300
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