Experimental projections in the streets of Kunming, China

April 2005 -

Jianghu 3 is an exposition of experimental video and installation art by 80 international and Chinese artists in Kunming, Southwest China. The exposition was held at the end of March 2005 at the initiative of the Chinese Lijiang studio.

The literal meaning of the phrase Jianghu is: rivers and lakes. But Jianghu also stands for boundaryless spaces, Kung Fu and social codes that exist outside of the law. Jianghu is improvisation, flux and adaptability. The Lijiang studio is using Jianghu as an umbrella theme for twelve widely-varying, experimental and unpredictable expositions.


Jianghu 3: projections on building fronts

The central part in Jianghu 3 is played by a projection vehicle. This vehicle, a cross between a push-cart and a wheelchair, is pushed through the streets and alleys of Kunming in the evening as it projects images on building fronts, ruins and gambling houses. The results are magical. The 'Cartes postales' by Robert Cahen, for example: stills of famous tourist attractions suddenly come to life for a few seconds. The unexpected movement in the still images is accompanied by music. The elderly fold their playing cards, move outdoors and are amazed as they watch one postcard after another. They want more, and when the vehicle continues on they follow it to the end of the street, shamelessly offering their comments.

Kunming in the province of Yunnan is a border area that is home to 26 officially-recognized ethnic minorities. It is far from Beijing and Shanghai; far from commercial art galleries and expositions. But Lijiang studio is not looking for cheap effects on inhabitants who have never come into contact with modern Western art. Jianghu 3 is a study of the culturally-specific conditions under which moving images are viewed. The Lijiang studio wants to challenge and stimulate people to achieve dialogue and artistic innovation.

Showing modern experimental video art in a city where censure is commonplace is not entirely without risk. It is with good reason that the curators of the Lijiang studio prepare their expositions with the curtains closed.