Juxtaposing the traditional techniques of hand-drawn animation with new media, Sun Xun, a Chinese artist born in 1980 recently risen to critical acclaim in Hangzhou and internationally. While attending the China Academy of Fine Arts, he started off learning the art of print-making, but he soon developed an intense interest in moving images that led him to found his own animation studio in 2006.
Sun Xun produces a multitude of drawings that incorporate text within the image for his animation. And his subjects range from elements of world history and politics, to natural organisms. He then films the drawings, sequentially to create a sense of movement and suggest the passing of time, the machinations of history, and the beauty inherent in simple forms.
About the Exhibition at the Vault Gallery:
Courtesy of: Mathieu Borysevicz
President Richard Nixon’s 1972 visit to the People’s Republic of China marked the first time that an American president had set foot in a nation that considered the United States one of its biggest enemies. For eight days and nights, American television audiences tuned in to a dazzling parade of images from this undiscovered country, the first they had seen in more than twenty years. Following decades of cold war polemics, the visit was trumpeted as a diplomatic milestone—“The week that changed the world,” Nixon himself proclaimed—yet in China, where the masses had little access to the pristine seduction of the televised image, it was a brief distraction from domestic hardship and capitalist-bashing. Different times, places, politics, and, perhaps most importantly, media necessitate the production and consumption of different histories.
Eight years of Cultural Revolution after Nixon’s historic visit, Sun Xun was born in Liaoning Province, along the northeast coast of China. While most of the country was once again in the throes of reinventing itself—this time along the tenets of Deng Xiaoping’s economic reform and opening-up policies, which declared, “to get rich is glorious”—the new country that Sun grew up in was essentially the same old country. The effects of China’s momentous shift from socialism to capitalism were slow in coming to this peripheral mining county, and so Sun was raised in the folds of a historical lapse. Propaganda still blared from loudspeakers every morning, bringing the factory complex where he grew up to attention, just as it had done for the past few decades. Uniformed workers shuffling against chimney stacks and fluttering flags colored the environment of Sun’s childhood, as did reams of newspapers that disseminated the same good word of an altogether “New China” still in its infancy. Society was changing quickly, but the official mode for dealing with it was not. The same party voice propagated the same message but had little resonance in this new context. And so while the scattered visual remnants of totalitarianism planted the seeds for Sun’s work, this environment of defective historicity helped to form its allegorical roots. More