Art@Site Ron Qiang 29h59'59

Liu Qiang



798 Art District
Liu Qiang’s work ‘29h59’59’ depicts masses of naked people climbing over one another towards an animal’s udders who growls angrily yet succumbs to this unpleasant treatment. There are several ways to interpret this work. Initially, I saw this as a daring portrayal of the act of drinking cows milk and how very unnatural it is to depend on the milk of the mother of another species for healthy growth. Further contemplation of this art work led me to think about how the title ‘29h59’59’ related to the sculpture itself.
t is well known amongst the scientific community that the solar day gains roughly a second every couple of years. The ‘29h59’59’ could be referring to a time very far in the future where our standard 24 hours in a day might have become 29 hours. At this point, the human population may have ballooned to a number where the earth can no longer support it. Our hopeless desperation for natural resources is therefore represented by the chaotic crowds beneath the cow with three udders which depicts our insatiable need for consumption.
Qiang has embodied the taboo subject of the inevitable end to the world around us into his work.
Embodiment requires the understanding of how our senses are involved in the meanings that we make. Through our sense of sight, Qiang’s play on perspective – tiny humans compared to a huge cow – confuses us and encourages us to formulate meaning behind his work.
Liu Qiang's sculpture simply titled 29h59'59 can be seen at the 798 Art District.
Artists took over this former factory site in the 1990s, and these days the area is full of galleries and coffee shops. Built by the East Germans in the 1950s, the former factories are huge structures that lend themselves well to showing off art. The jewel in 798 is undoubtedly the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art (UCCA), perhaps the country’s foremost modern art gallery.
It was built during the 1950s under Chairman Mao’s reign, hence the communist motivational statements, such as ‘Long Live Chairman Mao’, printed across the ceiling in large red chinese characters.
798 district was the result of the people’s rebellion against this time of creative inhibition. The collaboration and experimentation between and among artists is evident in the scattered collections of sculptures and art galleries within the district. In this act of ex-corporation, which is the process by which the subordinate make their own culture out of the resources and commodities provided by the dominant system, a controversial popular culture was born. Artists soon branched out to using other types of material, such as fiberglass, paint and different types of metals, to further develop their messages.