September 19 to November 03, 2002
Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON
Gu Xiong is an internationally recognized multi-media artist originally from Chongqing, Sichuan Province, China. Xiong describes his exhibition The Sickle and the Cell Phone:
"My installation attempts to comment on the shaking and shrinking of Chinese agriculture under globalization. During the Cultural Revolution, I was sent to a rural village as a labourer along with millions of other youth. The state of the village in my own past will be juxtaposed with the conditions of China in the present, flooded with images of globalization. Chairman Mao and the Communist Party taught people to revere and learn from the peasants, who comprised ninety percent of the Chinese population. In Chinese Society, to be a farmer and to work the land was a way to purify the self of reactionary elements, therefore, it was ?honourable? punishment.
"However, after the economic reforms of the early 1980s, China is now the largest market, and thus target, for multinational corporations. People hunger for consumer goods, creating a powerful mutual attraction. Agriculture has lost its respect in the minds of ordinary Chinese. Urban centres are expanding, while rural areas shrink both in size and wealth. At the same time, past social currents and traditions are shaken from their foundations. Coming to Canada, my own past and ideals have also been shattered, then rebuilt. Thus, I believe that it is only through this kind of painful death and rebirth that a better life is possible."
This exhibition is presented with the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council. The Art Centre will publish an artist?s book with essays by Judith Nasby, Exhibition Curator and Dr. Ann Oaks, Plant Biologist.
Gu Xiong also created a bronze sculpture titled The Sickle and the Cell Phone, the 24th installation in the Art Centre?s Sculpture Park. The sculpture which stands 1.5 metres high by 2 metres long was unveiled on September 19, 2002 at 7:30 p.m. The Sickle and the Cell Phone was commissioned by the Art Centre with funds donated by Ann Oaks and with the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program.
The Sickle and the Cell Phone, bronze sculpture