“RAW,” solo exhibition: Ma Qiusha
Beijing Commune (No.4 Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100015, China) Jul 19–Sep 12, 2013
As most members of the art scene are aware, Ma Qiusha’s career was born through pain: in the piece “From No.4 Pingyuanli to No.4 Tianqiaobeilim” the camera records her as she removes a bloody razor blade from her mouth after she finishes narrating her experiences. In the current exhibition, however, blood takes on a symbolic form—represented by tomato juice, served in glass containers of various shapes and sizes; it was the only beverage provided at the show’s opening. The containers holding the juice also happened to play the main role in her single-channel video piece entitled “Rainbow”: tomatoes on the floor are smashed open by three young girls’ skates. The camera records them as they pour the spattered juice into the various containers, and focuses the adolescent girls’ white stockings now being spattered with tomato juice. However, the symbolism here does not represent the sorrow of “the cruelty of youth,” and neither does it merely hold the shock found in the aesthetics of violence. The artist herself does not appear in the video, but the piece feels like a narration of a personal philosophy, as if the artist is saying to us: “violence and pain are beauty.” This seems to be an unchanging totem which appears on the creative paths of most female artists, and even artists like Ma who are well established in their careers and well into their thirties continue to pay homage to it.
The tomato juice, symbolizing blood, is extracted through youth and then housed in the glass containers—which gallerists, collectors, and members of the media drain as they chortle and make merry at the opening night.