Yique’s Way — Mutuality in Extremes

Exhibition

Overview

The University of New South Wales Judith Neilson Chair of Contemporary Art is delighted to sponsor and contribute to this exhibition of the work of the artist Yique. Yique’s work intervenes critically with established discourses and practices across multiple socio-political, cultural and institutional boundaries; not least, those that supposedly divide present-day authoritarian states, such as the People’s Republic of China, sharply from liberal democracies. As such, it demonstrates that culture and society on all sides of those boundaries is subject to pervasive forms of control requiring constant critical checking. In the context of an increasingly perspectivist contemporaneity where oppositional resistances to authority have become almost instantaneously recuperable, Yique proposes obliquely elusive and sustainably seditious artistic practices whose transcultural playing on the non-/rational interventional possibilities of deconstructivist witnessing and Daoist-inflected Confucianist aesthetics raises important questions about the critical direction of contemporary ‘post-West’ art.

-Paul Gladston, UNSW Judith Neilson Chair Professor of Contemporary Art 
 

Yique (HangZheng Wang) is an artist and curator known for his provocative approach, often describing himself as a troublemaker who imbues his work with chaotic absurdity to engage society on accessible terms. Born in 1995 in Taizhou China , he has made significant contributions in both China and the UK, exploring diverse perspectives on human experiences and societal constructs. His art seeks to expand perceptions of social ideologies and states of being, aiming to awaken consciousness. A recurring motto in his work is "to do something wrong to make it really strong." During his tenure as creative director and curator at a renowned art museum in China and his studies at the Royal College of Art, Yique's art became increasingly interventionist. He conducted public actions challenging established norms across social, political, cultural, and institutional boundaries, particularly those separating authoritarian states like China from liberal democracies. Key works include Field Work Temporary Works Ltd. (2021), followed by Take Break, Get Pay and Perhaps Love (2023). His recent works, East London Socialist Core Values (2023) and Apple (2024), have stirred controversy, with the former drawing international media attention and sparking intense debates on social media and at the Brick Lane graffiti wall site. Yique faced severe backlash for inscribing the Chinese Communist Party's 12 socialist core values.

The exhibition "Yique’s Way - Mutuality in Extremes" at Ugly Duck chronicles Yique's artistic evolution leading to the polarizing East London Socialist Core Values. It explores his dialectical and Daoist-inflected approach, delving into human experiences within social constructs and in relation to existential themes. Yique challenges societal norms, encouraging viewers to engage with the complexities of mutuality and extremes in contemporary discourse.

This exhibition is proudly sponsored by the UNSW Judith Neilson Chair of Contemporary Art in collaboration with Ugly Duck.

-Curator Tatiana Martinez

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Documentary trailer: Socialist Core Values - The Movement of the Opposite

Uncover the research and ideas that shape this exhibition

Read the insightful essays by Paul Gladston, the Judith Neilson Chair Professor of Contemporary Art, and Wang Chunchen, UNSW Judith Neilson Visiting Professor, written exclusively for the exhibition 'Yique's Way - Mutuality in Extremes.'

Events Details

  • Tuesday-Friday 12:00 - 18:00 / Saturday - Sunday 10:00 - 18:00 (London time) | Ugly Duck 
    Free Entry

  • 18:00 - 22:00  (London time) | Ugly Duck
    Free - registration required

  • 18:00 - 20:00  (London time) | Ugly Duck
    Free - registration required

    The Movement of the Opposite
    This documentary shows the making of the ‘art-action’, East London Socialist Core Values by the Chinese artist Yique, which became a focus for intense international media interest and online debate in 2023. The video includes comments by the artist Ai Weiwei and UNSW Judith Neilson Professor of Contemporary Art Paul Gladston on the significance of the action.

  • 18:00 - 20:00  (London time) | Ugly Duck
    Ticketed: £8.00 Online // £10.00 on the door

    “Echoes of Shadows: The Toll of Trolls”
    Experience the gripping shadow performance, Echoes of Shadows: The Toll of Trolls, as it delves into the overwhelming and relentless world of online trolling. This evocative show explores the harrowing journey of Yique's East London Socialist Core Values, where he faced a torrent of death threats and vile comments following its global exposure. Witness shadows bring to life the artist's struggle against backlash, illustrating how social media can profoundly impact art by amplifying its reach, bringing both widespread acclaim and intense scrutiny.

  • 18:00 - 20:00  (London time) | Ugly Duck
    Free - registration required

    The panel discussion features Paul Gladston, Dr. Katie Hill, Dr. Hongwei Bao, and Yique, exploring contemporary Chinese art and its social and cultural impacts, often challenging Western views on democracy and freedom. They will examine the role of artists in society and the intersection of art, politics, media, and public perception. The panel will also address reactions to Yique's East London Socialist Core Values, discussing its political implications and media portrayals. Attendees will engage with experts who challenge conventions and expand our understanding of contemporary art.

    Yique is a Contemporary Chinese artist whose research spans classical Marxism, the Frankfurt School's critique of society, and the social transformations under neoliberalism.

    Prof. Paul Gladston is the inaugural Judith Neilson Chair of Contemporary Art at the University of New South Wales, Sydney and a distinguished affiliate fellow of the UK-China Humanities Alliance, Tsinghua University, Beijing.

    Dr. Katie Hill is currently Academic Lead, Asia and Senior Lecturer at Sotheby's Institute of Art, London, where she founded and directed the MA in Modern and Contemporary Asian Art.

    Dr. Hongwei Bao is Associate Professor in Media Studies at the University of Nottingham, UK, where he co-directs the Centre for Critical Theory and Cultural Studies.

Yique

Artist

MA, Royal College of Art, School of Humanities
Former Director/Curator, Hoey Art Centre 
Currently Chair Curator, of Big Roof, Liangzhu Cultural Arts Centre

Yique's research runs through classical Marxism, the Frankfurt School's critique of society, and the social transformations of neoliberalism. Yique's work and curated exhibitions have been shown in a variety of countries and spaces including TATE Morden, OXO Tower, Cromwell Place, KL8 Brussels, Fluxus Museum in Greece, Ming Contemporary Art Museum in Shanghai, Baolong Art Centre in Hangzhou, Hoey Art Centre and Big Roof Art Centre in Hangzhou, amongst others. Yique's curatorial work is sometimes controversial internationally. He has been featured in the BBC, The Guardian, The New York Times, CNN, Reuters and many other media. Unapologetically self-identifying as both a critic and a "troublemaker," Yique unceasingly challenges conventions, pushing the boundaries of artistic and intellectual discourse. Through his multifaceted contributions, Yique continues to influence society with his art, shaping the cultural landscape he believes in.

Professor Paul Gladston

Curatorial Coordinator

Paul GLADSTON is the inaugural Judith Neilson Chair Professor of Contemporary Art, University of New South Wales, Sydney and a Distinguished Affiliate Fellow of the UK-China Humanities Alliance, Tsinghau University, Beijing. His numerous book-length publications include the monographs Contemporary Chinese Art: A Critical History (2014) - awarded ‘best publication’ at the Awards of Art China (2015) - and Contemporary Chinese Art, Aesthetic Modernity and Zhang Peili: Towards a Critical Contemporaneity (2019) as well as the co-edited collections Visual Culture Wars at the Borders of Contemporary China: Art, Design, Film, New Media and the Prospects of “Post-West” Contemporaneity (2021) and Rethinking Displays of Chinese Contemporary Art: Diversity and Tradition (2024). He was an academic advisor to the internationally acclaimed exhibition ‘Art of Change: New Directions from China,’ Hayward Gallery-South Bank Centre, London (2012).

Curators

  • Tatiana is an independent curator with dual bases in London and Los Angeles. Grounded in a rich academic foundation melding art history and anthropology, she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin, followed by a Master of Arts in Art History and Visual Culture at Richmond, The American International University.

    Her scholarly pursuits delve into diverse realms such as DIY and visual culture, archaeology, sociology, and politics, reflecting a multidisciplinary approach to her curatorial practice. With a keen eye for innovation and a deep understanding of cultural dynamics, Tatiana has curated a multitude of pop-up exhibitions in both cosmopolitan hubs of Los Angeles and London.

  • Marie Hills-Butt is a passionate curator currently pursuing a BA in Culture, Criticism, and Curation at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London (UAL). Her approach to curatorial practice is deeply rooted in critical theory and community engagement.

    During her time at CSM, Marie has explored the intersection of art, feminism, and social impact. She has critically engaged with contemporary themes through academic writing, video essays, and exhibition reviews. Marie’s work often examines how art institutions use archives to shape narratives and how public spaces can serve as historical documents.

    Marie is particularly interested in the social and cultural impact of art within communities. Her projects, such as a self-published zine on the role of independent coffee shops in regenerated areas, reflect her commitment to highlighting underrepresented voices and spaces. Collaborations with organisations  like the Centre for Investigative Journalism have furthered her exploration of how art can intersect with technology and media to tell compelling stories.

    Dedicated to supporting artists, Marie aims to create platforms that address socio-political and economic issues. Her practice is characterised  by a thoughtful integration of theory and practice, always with an eye towards fostering meaningful dialogue and community engagement through art.

  • Yiping Xia 夏一平 (b.1999, China) is a multidisciplinary artist based in London. Her artistic focus lies on the often overlooked elements of everyday life, exploring the ephemeral moments and hidden potentials within them and how they frame identity and memory. 

    Born in Hebei, he studied abroad and lived in the UK. He graduated from the University of the Arts London and the Royal College of Art with bachelor's and master's degrees. Six years of studying in the UK has made her creations and research focus on the identity and cultural exploration of overseas Chinese, especially female groups, in foreign lands. Her curatorial work involves the exploration of the spirit of mountains and rivers and sacred landscapes under the study of East Asian culture, and focuses on the crisis of technological faith in the era of spiritual ruins.

Exhibition Preview

Delve Deeper: Relevant Research by the Chair

Paul Gladston (2024), '‘Humour/Youmo in Chinese Contemporary Art and Online Visual Culture: Identifying the Intertextual Traces of Confucian-literati Aesthetics’', in Gieskes M; Williams GH (ed.), Humor, Globalization, and Culture-specificity in Contemporary Art, Bloomsbury, London. Read here

Paul Gladston (2023), 'Dis-/continuing traditions: Chinese contemporary art, polylogic translation and the traces of Confucian-literati culture', in Translation Studies and China: Literature, Cinema, and Visual Arts, 217-234. Read here

Paul Gladston (2023), ‘Other Ways of Seeing: Reading Transcultural Aesthetics through Images’, Bloomsbury Philosophy Library – London: Bloomsbury History of Modern Aesthetics. Read here