Tong Kunniao: Why Don't You Eat Stinky Tofu?

Los Angeles

September 10 – October 15, 2016

Press Release

Nicodim Gallery is pleased to announce “Why Don’t You Eat Stinky Tofu?,” the US debut exhibition of new paintings, kinetic sculptures and installations by Tong Kunniao (b. 1990) aka T.K.. The exhibition will be on view from September 10 through October 22, 2016.

T.K. grew up in the city of Changsha where stinky tofu, like malodorous Epoisse cheese, is regarded as THE culinary delicacy, favored by locals. The stinky tofu is not for the faint of heart, inasmuch as the artist’s works can be both challenging and rewarding.

Assembled with secondhand tchotchkes and found objects, enforced with cheap construction materials, powered by simple motors, and installed cheek by jowl, T.K.’s totem-pole-like vertical kinetic sculptures occupy the gallery in clusters, some elevated on pedestals of various heights and some placed directly on the floor. The Barbie dolls, action figures, carnival masks, leftover garments, furniture fragments, adult toys, and religious souvenirs are botched, mounted on poles or dangled in the air. When the motion sensors are tripped, the sculptures are set in wild rotating and flinging dances, accompanied by blinking lights and rattling sounds. The idiosyncratic, colorful, dense, and erotic works confront the viewer with the embarrassing, the shameful, the uneasy, but ultimately the harmless pranks that hilariously depict despicable bodily functions and social humiliations. A wooden granny puppet’s arm is repeatedly swinging upward hitting a pair of testicles. A few dozens of Barbies and Kens are nailed to a board, arranged according to their skin colors from pale to dark. A long rat-tail is swirling madly in the air, beating a tambourine erected on top of an archipelago of sculptures, as if summoning a ritual ceremony. Silicone turds are casually placed throughout the gallery. Blood is represented everywhere, reflecting the artist’s initial emotional response to Los Angeles before his arrival. News and social media have bombarded the world with images of mass shooting, police violence, and deadly crimes in Los Angeles. Needless to say, without having previously experienced Los Angeles, T. K.’s imagination of the city of angels is stained with blood. The special reference to blood seems to offer up Tristan Tzara’s theater of suffering.

Having worked everyday on site since August 1, 2016, the artist gradually appropriates the gallery space through his “messy” display of half-torn dry walls, accumulated objects, slapdash paintings, and cacophonous sculptures, all partially or entirely made of discarded and recyclable materials from the detritus of consumer society in Beijing and Los Angeles. Engaging consumers’ refuse with low mechanic technology, and subjecting the outcome to contingency, the 25-year old artist from Beijing gives a nod to ancestries in art history, from Dada to Fluxus to Arte Povera, from Jean Tinguely to Robert Rauschenberg to Mike Kelley. Guided by the DIY attitude, his artistic language has developed through his relentless editing and re-editing by hand fragments and residues of information, images and objects, and amalgamating them into three-dimensional combines that extend vertically and horizontally in the space. Accentuated with spray paint, strobe light, and fog effects, the installation of vernacular and domestic junk conjures up dystopian ruins and apocalyptic chaos that thereby pose questions about the history of a place, be it Los Angeles or Beijing, and its people, as well as the way in which elements constitute the space as the event of our time. 

However, T.K. is neither complaining about the modern days’ soulless banality nor trying to escape from the material world. Instead, he argues for a thrift-store aesthetic of redemption and irony-drenched celebration of decline and nostalgia, while embracing the adolescent humor and libidinal gratification.

Nicodim画廊荣幸地宣布童鹍鸟(1990生,又名T.K.) 在美国的首次展览 “你为什么不吃臭豆腐? ” 展览将从2016年9月10日到10月22日展出艺术家新的绘画、动态雕塑和装置。 童鹍鸟在长沙长大。像有恶臭的Epoisse奶酪一样,臭豆腐深受长沙当地居民喜爱,视为珍馐美味。 臭豆腐不是一般心理脆弱的人能接受的, 艺术家的作品也同样具有挑战性和最终给予人满足感。 用二手小玩意和捡来的物件组装,再用廉价的建筑材料固定, 由简单的马达驱动,童鹍鸟图腾杆似的直立运动雕塑组合密密麻麻地占据了画廊的空间:一些架在不同高度的基座上,一些直接放置在地板上。 芭比娃娃,动作片公仔, 狂欢节面具, 旧衣服,家具碎片,成人玩具,和宗教的纪念品都被拙劣地整修后安装在木桩上或挂在空中。 当动态感应器被激发时,雕塑就疯狂地旋转和扔甩,伴随着闪烁的灯光和卡嗒卡嗒的声音。这些怪诞,色彩斑斓、密集和色情的作品让观众面对尴尬,耻辱,不安,但最终是无害的恶作剧,喜不自禁地描绘见不得人的身体机能和社会中的不耻。 木偶奶奶的手臂反复摇摆向上触及睾丸。 几十个男女芭比娃娃钉在板上, 根据他们的皮肤颜色从浅到深排列。 长尖鼠尾疯狂的在空气中旋转,敲打竖立在雕塑组合顶端的手鼓,仿佛在召唤仪式。 硅胶粪便随意放置在画廊各个角落。 到处都是血的再现,反映了艺术家在来洛杉矶之前对这个城市的先入为主的情绪反应。 新闻和社会媒体不停地向世界播放在洛杉矶发生的枪杀事件,警察暴力,和致命的犯罪。 不用说,没有之前来过洛杉矶的童鹍鸟对“天使之城”的想象是血迹斑斑的。 他对血的特别兴趣似乎于特里斯坦·裁拉(Tristan Tzara)的磨难剧院有共鸣之处。

从2016年8月1日开始,童鹍鸟每天在现场工作,逐渐通过“混乱”地布置干砌墙,积累的杂物,即兴的绘画,和发出各种噪音雕塑来占有画廊的空间。所有的作品都部分或完全由在北京和洛杉矶的消费社会里被丢弃和回收的材料制成。在把消费者的弃物与低级机械技术结合,和其结果的偶然性中,这个北京来的25岁艺术家向艺术史上的先驱点头致敬: 从达达到激浪派到贫穷艺术,从让·提贵利(Jean Tinguely)到罗伯特·罗森伯(Robert Rauschenberg) 到 格迈克·凯利(Mike Kelley)。 以自己动手(DIY)的态度为引导,他的艺术语言的开发是通过他的不懈地用手工编辑和再编辑信息,图像和物质的碎片和残骸,并重新组合成三维体,垂直和水平地扩展到空间里去。 以喷漆、闪光灯和喷雾来加强效果,这些由随处可见的和家用小商品废物垃圾构建的装置让人想起反乌托邦废墟和世界末日般的混乱, 以此而引起对一个地方的历史,不管是洛杉矶还是北京,以及在其中生活的人的好奇,以及不同元素而构成的把反映我们时代的空间转化为事件的洞察。

然而,童鹍鸟并不是在抱怨现代生活中没有灵魂的平庸, 也没有试图摆脱物质世界。 相反,他在主张节俭审美中的废物利用以及带有讽刺意味的对衰落的庆祝和怀旧心态,同时他也在拥抱青春期的幽默和冲动。