CHRISTINA SHMIGEL This City, Daily Rising
bruno david gallery
CHRISTINA SHMIGEL This City, Daily Rising
January 21 - March 5 2011 Bruno David Gallery 3721 Washington Boulevard Saint Louis, 63108 Missouri, U.S.A. email@example.com www.brunodavidgallery.com Director: Bruno L. David This catalogue was published in conjunction with the exhibition Christina Shmigel: This City, Daily Rising Editor: Bruno L. David Catalog Designer: Yoko Kiyoi Design Assistant: Aydan Gadzhieva Design Assistant: Claudia R. David Printed in USA All works courtesy of Bruno David Gallery and Christina Shmigel Cover image: Foreignerâ€™s Cabinet of Chinese Curiosities, 2011 (detail) Mixed media 77 x 53 x 52 inches.
Copyright ÂŠ 2011 Bruno David Gallery, Inc. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of Bruno David Gallery, Inc.
A Conversation between Christina Shmigel and Xhingyu Chen THIS PHENOMENAL CITY: Christina Shmigel’s Shanghai, in St. Louis 2011 by Peter MacKeith AFTERWORD by Bruno L. David CHECKLIST OF THE EXHIBITION BIOGRAPHY
A CONVERSATION BETWEEN CHRISTINA SHMIGEL AND XHINGYU CHEN This City, Daily Rising is the result of over five years of work from artist Christina Shmigel. From her adopted city of Shanghai, she speaks to Xhingyu Chen about the exhibition at Bruno David Gallery, St. Louis, Missouri (January 21 – March 5, 2011), the city’s architectural influence, and the peculiarities of everyday life. XHINGYU CHEN: How long have you lived in Shanghai? CHRISTINA SHMIGEL: Since 2004, almost 7 years! XC: Can you describe your work prior to moving to Shanghai? What changed in your practice because of your move? CS: I moved here from St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A. where I was primarily working in steel, dealing with its industrial architecture. Since my training is in blacksmithing and fabrication work, I was working with imagery that related to steel: bridges, dust collectors, water towers. Even though the work wasn’t about steel, it was still very material based. When I came to Shanghai, I thought it would only be a temporary move, maybe one or two years, so it didn’t make sense to move my metal working equipment, and I didn’t buy equipment here. The biggest challenge in starting to make work here was thinking of ways to work that were not based on those old familiar methods. That was a huge shift. XC: What were some immediate observations you had when you first moved here, and how much of that informed your work?
Do they still inform your work? CS: The show at Bruno David Gallery in St. Louis is all about that. Five years of asking, “What am I looking at, and how do I process what I see?” and I’m still asking myself that! Initially, my impression of Shanghai was, “Oh god, this place is so ugly; how am I going to live here?” The first three weeks I was here, I was literally in shock. It was the middle of the summer, deathly hot,
completely foggy, everything was gray…it was like living in the atmosphere of Venus. I remember being on the elevated highway, surrounded by these 70s and 80s era tiled buildings and thinking, “What am I going to feed off of here?” The thing that jumped out first, that cut through all that homogenous gray air was the intense color of the plastics: the hot pinks & reds, the bright yellow. That’s what I started with in my search for beauty. The funny thing is, some of the pieces that I have the most affection for in the show are related to that same architecture that I found ugly in the beginning. Those white tile buildings with blue windows were my idea of dystopia—this is what the end of the world will look like! After a while, I started noticing things about them such as the way the tiles line up in strong horizontal stripes that band the building and that because those buildings are cast concrete, they can be sculptural in their spatial use in a way they couldn’t be if they were made with other materials. Once I started noticing those kinds of things, I began seeing the buildings individually, and I’d think, “Wow, look at that one, that’s got a weird column in the middle of it”, or “How did they get that square to cantilever out like that?” Understanding those buildings as sculptural objects totally changed my relationship to my surroundings. When you look at things with enough patience and careful attention, you see the incredible details that personalize them. So I started picking those up and working with that. XC: You’re the first person to put a positive spin on that particular style of architecture! CS: That’s the crux of the work I do, to take the stuff we don’t even want to notice because we find it ugly or mundane and re-work it or re-contextualize it in such a way as to bring back a sense of wonder. My favorite thing about the work I do is that I often hear people ask when they visit my studio, “What is that?” When they leave the studio and go back out into the world, they’re like, “Oh wow, that’s that thing she’s making!”, then they start noticing it all over the place. The work has somehow shifted their ability to be in the world, and it has given them a positive spin on things. My moment of imagination then becomes their moment of imagination. It becomes transformative and that’s actually the goal of my work. You have to take something out of that mundane existence and make a transformation so that it has some kind of wonder or meaning. In that way, Shanghai is ideal.
XC: What is the biggest change you’ve observed in your time here that has affected your work or your perspective? CS: The joke I’m always making about Shanghai is that you really have to learn the Buddhist notions of impermanence and nonattachment because as soon you get attached to something here it disappears. You’re always learning the lesson that things are temporary and that change is inevitable. In some ways, that experience was key to the work I was making. Part of the impulse of the work became an attempt to harbor the moments and things that might disappear. One of the first objects that I put in the medicine cabinet was the White Cat brand detergent bottle, which was pretty much the only dishwashing soap you could buy in our neighborhood when we first arrived. It wasn’t very good soap. It didn’t wash very well. It didn’t even create many suds. It had this weird, dated drawing of a cat on it, and I thought, as soon as this society becomes more affluent that image is going to go. People aren’t going to be satisfied with this crappy soap anymore, and they’re going to feel embarrassed by the lack of sophistication in the design. It’s going to change into something that is much more familiar to me as it becomes more like what Madison Avenue decides it should look like, and sure enough it has. You can’t buy that bottle anymore, and there’s a different kind of ad for it; it’s been totally re-branded. That’s the largest lesson from this city, how to try and preserve things that have a particular identity. I try to anticipate things that I think won’t be around anymore. XC: The exhibition has a strong architectural element to it. What made you focus on architecture rather than some other ele-
ment of the city? Why do you think architecture plays such a big role in defining the city? CS: Partly I just like geometric form, but it is also because I lived in a number of different places: southern Louisiana, the Midwest, and NYC. In each of those places, the architecture is a defining feature that gives each place character. I also think that architecture is a projection of the temperament of the people who live in that place, so it’s a displaced portrait of the people. I could never be a figurative sculptor; people make me too nervous. I wouldn’t be able to depict people, but architecture becomes a way of depicting our humanity without actually depicting us. That was a natural thing for me to glom onto here. There are all these pieces of architecture that are so specific to the history and texture of this place.
I would never do a piece based on of the buildings on the Bund. I’m more interested in the buildings that will most likely go by the wayside, that will eventually meet a wrecking ball or are temporary from the start. You don’t think of the blue pre-fab migrant housing in Shanghai as something of value, but it does have a strong identity. You know things are happening when that housing goes up; it’s a sign of a lot of what is happening in the city.
XC: Are the buildings that have a lot of Western influences or that Westerners feel are beautiful the ones that will eventually stay? CS: In one way, those buildings are the ones that are the real anatomy of the city; those beautiful “Western” buildings are the jewels. We tend to pick out the beautiful ones because they rescue us from the monotony of the vernacular. That stuff, the nondescript architecture, that’s the real texture of the place. XC: When did you buy the traditional Chinese medicine cabinet [that became Foreigner’s Cabinet of Chinese Curiosities]? CS: I bought the cabinet in 2006, and I started consciously collecting things for it about a year later. I had some things around already that ended up going in the cabinet. That was one thing I noticed when I first started collecting. In other places that I’ve lived, I’m constantly finding things on the street, but it’s harder here because it’s so tidy in Shanghai! Either the recyclers get that stuff, or the street sweepers have gotten to it, and you actually don’t find that kind of lost, worn object very much. So I did have to get new things or buy things. There’s very little in there that’s stuff that I came upon on the street. XC: Everyone re-uses everything, and unless you went into someone’s home and asked, “Can I look through your stuff?”, you’d
be hard pressed to get any real “trash.” CS: I did end up a couple times in places where they had demolished buildings, and I would look around there. There would be the occasional object there, but I was actually a little afraid of those objects.
XC: Like, why did they leave that behind? CS: Right, there must be something wrong with it! Also I was afraid of the nostalgia of that stuff. The things collected in the cabinet, you can’t really be that nostalgic about as stuff. They have no intrinsic charm, they’re not beautifully crafted. I spent a lot of time worrying about what goes in, and what doesn’t go in. How do I choose? I could never articulate the reverberation that an object had to have in order for it to be chosen. Ultimately, I think the thing had to have a couple of layers of meaning, both to me and to the culture. Let’s take the wedding favors, for example. They’re about something really heartfelt, marriage, that’s very important in this family-oriented culture. They also point to the generosity of people that give those out. We were on a bicycle trip and stopped to watch a wedding procession, and we were immediately handed cigarettes, chocolates and these wedding favors. They’re made in this cheap way, and they’re totally impersonal, tacky and unoriginal, but they still represent something substantial. These things have enough levels of meaning within the culture that they become interesting to me. XC: What are your thoughts on an “outsider” (you) co-opting or adopting traditional and/or stereotypical elements of Chinese
culture (i.e. the medicine cabinet) for your work? What makes you different from all the other artists who employ Chinese/ Eastern elements? CS: That’s a tricky one. It’s a constant concern, and I don’t think it’s something I can really answer. It’s something that I worried about a lot when I started working on this project. How do you say something about a place but ground it in the fact that it’s coming from you as an outsider? I think that’s the position I try to maintain. How do I not romanticize or glamorize something but make it about the experience of discovering it? So that when I’m borrowing from it, it’s somehow obvious that it’s me trying to engage and get an understanding of it rather than co-opting it. Part of the reason I named the cabinet Foreigner’s Cabinet of Chinese Curiosities was I wanted to make it clear that I was an outsider looking in on the culture, and that I was doing this work without particularly understanding the culture. I wanted the experience of opening the drawers for the viewer to be the same as the experience of a tourist visiting a place: you notice one thing, you notice another, and you slowly start to construct your own meaning and understanding of what you’re seeing. I’m
basing it on my own developing understanding of the place. Most of the things in the cabinet are not the stuff of exotic China. They are the most ordinary of things like the wedding favors or the charcoal briquettes used for cooking or the White Cat dish washing liquid. XC: Do local Chinese [in Shanghai] have a lot of exposure to your art? If so, what have been their reactions? CS: Unfortunately, I was unable to show most of This City, Daily Rising in Shanghai. I would have liked to have more local interaction. Local Chinese visit my studio pretty often because my studio is in a “creative industrial center.” Locals have less experience with art that doesn’t fit into traditional categories so at first they were usually very shy about my work. It didn’t make sense to them, what it was or where it came from, whereas most foreigners in Shanghai have a broader definition of art. Of course, the associations that local viewers had with the objects and the imagery were much stronger because they had grown up with a lot of those things. They would be surprised at some of the things they’d find in the cabinet drawers. They’d be puzzled how I, as a foreigner, had noticed so much of their culture that they knew but to which they really hadn’t paid much attention. One of my favorite experiences was with a young woman who could read all the characters on the cabinet; her mother practiced traditional Chinese medicine, and she spent a long time in my studio giving me a tutorial of what should have been in the drawers. After she told me all this, I regretted not having more curiosity of what should have been there so that maybe I could have tied in those levels of meaning. For example, the wedding favors could have gone into a drawer reserved for heart medicines, and made it more anthropological, but it was still cool to have someone who knew the medicine cabinet as a living thing. XC: It seems in order for an emerging foreign artist to gain any traction in China, they have to incorporate the local culture into
their work, in a sense, kowtowing to their adapted homeland. What are your thoughts on this? Are you wary of being placed in that “foreign artist” ghetto? CS: I approach that question from a slightly different direction because I sometimes look at the work I’m making and I think, “Is this really my work?” What I was doing before I came to Shanghai was really quite minimalist, very little color. When I look at
the work I’m doing now, I think, China has really thrown me off track! I just couldn’t do a sober, black and white drawing here because it really didn’t reflect what I’m experiencing. Even though sometimes I think this current work is off the track of who I am as an artist, there’s just no other work that I could possibly be doing. As an artist, I’m always trying to make things that reflect who I am in relation to the place that I’m in. When I was living in Louisiana, people thought I had a very Louisiana outlook. That’s just my nature as a maker. Here, it’s complex because we’re all borrowing from the culture. There’s just something seductive about the traditions here that make you want to participate. I think a lot of foreign artists are going through the same thing, trying to figure out how to be in a place that is so foreign to you that you have to find some way of connecting to it. Borrowing from it is as much a survival mechanism as it is a career strategy. I think it’s something that’s going to be curious to watch over time, as the city becomes more cosmopolitan and more artists come from other places. One of the things I thought about a lot in the course of making this body of work is how my ex-pat experience relates to that of my parents who immigrated to New York City as political refugees after WWII. I’ve always thought that my outsider perspective was because of my parents’ view of themselves as foreigners in America, and I also never thought that I quite belonged. Even in my own culture, I was looking in from the outside and trying to figure out the patterns of the locals. Of course, expats have a completely different existence than traditional immigrants, and a different relationship to the issue of being foreign. It’s still funny, suddenly becoming a kind of immigrant and having a parallel experience in a truly foreign culture. I thought a lot about objects that I grew up with, that were made by family friends in the displaced persons camps in Germany after the war. They used whatever materials they could scrounge in order to keep making. I think it would be interesting to take the work shown at Bruno David Gallery back to a Chinese immigrant population in America, and ask them to reflect on similar objects in America that they notice that I can’t see. Maybe there’s something about the Prell bottle that I haven’t noticed because the vocabulary is so familiar to me, whereas an immigrant might look at it and say, “Can you believe how much this reveals about American culture?” I think it would be really interesting to get that outsider’s perspective back at me.
The interview took place in March 2011 in Shanghai, China. Edited by Megan Vallowe (April 2011)
Xhingyu Chen was born in Changsha, Hunan, China. She studied Studio Art at Middlebury College in Vermont before returning to China where she founded Shanghai Culture. Xhingyu is also an independent art critic. Her most recent book, Chinese Artists: New Media 1990-2010, focuses on contemporary Chinese artists working in new media. Xhingyu is a contributing writer to Art Asia Pacific, Yishu Journal, The International Herald Tribune, Nukta Art, and Sculpture Magazine. She was formerly the art editor for Time Out Shanghai and the Shanghai correspondent for ArtInfo.
《这座日益崛起的城市》 是艺术家克里斯蒂娜施米吉尔五年多的心血之作。 从上海，这座她居住的城市入手，她同陈 幸宇女士谈到了这次展出、这座城市在建筑上的影响力以及日常生活中的独特之处。 XHINGYU CHEN
造和建筑方面的培训，我也研究一些与钢铁有关的意象，也就是桥、集尘器、水塔。即使有的创作和钢铁无关，也都 是以材料为基础的。我刚来上海时，本来以为只是暂时住上一或两年，所以没有必要把我的钢铁材料都运过来，我在 这里也没有买任何的材料。所以开始在这里创作时最大的挑战就是要想出一些不依靠那些材料的方法。这对我而言是 一个巨大的转变。 ---
进行加工。一直到现在，我都还在问自己这个问题。我对上海最初的印象是‘哦，天哪，这个地方太难看了，我该如 何在这里居住呢？’最初的三个星期里，我都处在震惊状态。当时正好是夏天，闷热的天气让人无法忍受，一切似乎 都是灰蒙蒙的……就像生活在另一个星球上。我记得有一次我在高架公路上，旁边都是七八十年代的砖楼，我想‘这 里有什么能激发我的创作呢？’当时首先打破这种灰色沉闷的，就是各色鲜艳的塑料：热烈的粉色和红色，明亮的黄 色…所以我对美的追寻就是由那儿开始的。
有意思的是，展出中我最喜欢的一些作品都同我开始觉得难看的那些建筑有关。刚开始，那些白色的砖砌大楼在我看 来如同地狱一般——这简直就是世界末日的景象！但随后，我开始注意到几个细节：砖块排列成的横条纹缠绕着整座大 楼；由于这些大楼都是混凝土浇注的，因此在空间利用上就如同雕刻一般，而这种效果是其他材料所无法取得的。一旦 开始注意到这些细节，我便开始逐个观察这些建筑，我当时想‘哇，那个大楼，中间有一个很奇怪的柱子。’或者‘他 们是怎样让正方形变成悬臂构造的呢？’将这些建筑理解为雕塑品后，我同周围环境的关系就发生了巨大的变化。当你 有足够的耐心和细心去看待事物时，你就会看见那些让它们独具风格、不可思议的细节。于是我就从这里开始入手，进 行创作。 ---
入新的背景之中，最终赋予其一种惊异感。我经常听见人们参观我的工作室时会问：‘那是什么？’离开我的工作室回 到日常生活中，他们会发现：‘咦，那不就是她的作品吗？’而之后他们就开始在生活中不断发现这样东西。从这种意 义上说，我的作品改变了人们感知世界的能力，让他们以积极的眼光看待事物。我创作时的联想转化成了他们生活中的 联想，而这正是我创作的目的。你需要从平凡的生活中去挖掘些什么，并对其进行转化，然后它就会具有某种意义。上 海就非常适合这种挖掘。 ---
产生依恋，它便马上消失。你总会得到的教训就是：万物都是短暂无常的，变化则是无法避免的。在某些方面，这种经 历是我进行创作的关键所在。我进行创作的部分推动力就是试图留住此刻，留住不久即将消失的事物。我放在中药柜里 的第一件物品就是一个白猫牌洗洁精瓶子。白猫洗洁精是我们刚来上海时，在我们小区里唯一能买到的洗洁精。它并不
好用，甚至不太起泡，但是它的瓶身上画着一只既奇怪又过时的小猫。我想，一旦社会富裕起来，这个形象也就要离我 们而去了，人们将不满这种拙劣的洗洁精，甚至会对它简陋的设计风格感到尴尬。它会变成我更加熟悉的形象，因为它 会越来越像美国广告业喜欢的风格——显然它的确已经发生了变化。现在已经买不到这种瓶子了，广告也已经换掉了， 整个品牌都被重新包装了。如何试着保留那些有着独特韵味的东西，这是我从这座城市中学到的最宝贵的一课。我试着 提前留住那些我觉得将不复存在的事物。 ---
国中西部、还有纽约，在这每一个地方建筑都是决定一个城市性格的最重要的因素。我也认为建筑是当地居民性情的反 映，所以建筑实际上是对某个人群从另一个角度的描绘。我无法成为一个富有表现力的人像雕刻家，因为人让我太过紧 张。我不会刻画人，但是建筑却是一种能够刻画人性而无需刻画人物本身的方式。所以来到这里以后，我便很自然地钟 情于这里的建筑。并且这里有很多建筑都有其特定的历史内涵，与当地的特质息息相关。但我绝不会以外滩建筑为基础 进行创作。我对路旁那些最终将被拆除，或从一开始便只是临时搭建的建筑更感兴趣。你可能不觉得上海那种蓝色的临 时工棚有什么价值，但是它的确有其强烈的内涵。你知道搭建那些房子的同时，一定发生了什么事情，那就是这座城市 里所发生的众多事情的标志。 ---
总是在大街上找东西，然而在上海却很难，因为上海太干净了！不是被拾荒者就是清洁工给捡走了，事实上不太容易找 到那种用过的、丢弃的东西。所以我不得不去找新东西或者自己去买。总之大街上很少能够找到我需要的东西。 ---
无法真正的引发怀旧情怀。就它们自身而言，没有内在的美丽，做工也并不精美。我该如何选择呢？我不能为了将其选 进来，而给其强加内涵。最终我决定我收藏的这些东西，都要有几层意义，不仅对于我，也对于本地的文化。比如说喜 糖，同婚姻有关，是发自内心的，在这个家庭观念如此浓重的文化里意义非凡。它们也表达着发放人的慷慨：当时我们 正骑自行车旅行，顺路停下来观看婚礼，马上便有人给我们递过来香烟、喜糖。它们都做得很廉价、俗气，完全没有自 己的个性，更毫无新意，但是仍代表着一些很重要的事情。这些事情在本地文化之中有着足够多的意义，因此对我而言 非常有意思。 ---
常常有此担忧。你明明是个局外人，又如何能够评价一个地方？我如何不将一样东西过度美化、浪漫化，而是表达发现 它的过程？也就是说，当我借鉴这些元素时，很显然是我在努力了解它，而非篡用它。这就是我努力保持的一种姿势。 我之所以将这个药柜命名为《外国人眼中的中国古董箱》，一部分原因就是因为我想阐明我在以一个局外人的视角去看 这里的文化，还有就是我是在没有非常了解这种文化的条件下进行创作。我希望参观者拉开抽屉的经历就如同去一个地 方旅行：你看到这个，又看到那个，于是你开始慢慢地自己去理解你所看到的东西。我这个作品正是构建在我对这个地 方日益了解的基础之上的。药柜里的大部分东西，都不是那些体现中国的异国情调的，而是一些最为平常的事物，比如 说喜糖、做饭烧过的煤球、或是白猫牌洗洁精。 ---
但是中国人还是会经常光顾我的工作室，因为我的工作室处在一个‘创意工业中心’里。这些人很少接触与传统背道而 驰的艺术，因此起初都是一言不发。他们不明白这是什么，或从哪里来，然而上海的大部分外国人对艺术都有更为广阔 的定义。当然，本地人对这些作品有更深的感情，因为这是些伴着他们长大的东西。他们会对从药柜抽屉里看到的东西 感到惊讶，一个外国人怎能对他们原本熟悉，却很少注意的文化关注如此之多？ 我很喜欢的一次经历是遇到一位年轻的女士，她竟然认识药柜上所有的汉字，因为她的母亲是中医师。她在我的工作 室里花了好长时间教我抽屉里本应该放什么。听她讲完，我很遗憾之前没有留心，否则我或许还可以联系上那些涵义。 比如说，喜糖本可以放在那个存放医心药的抽屉里，这样还会有些许人类学的意义。但是有人如此熟知中药柜，还是一 件好事。
上海之前我的作品都是比较简约主义的。我用的色彩很少。现在再去看我的作品，我发现中国真的把我送上了与过去完 全不同的轨道!但是我在这里，实在创作不出那种凝重的、黑白色调的作品， 因为这无法反映出我在这里的经历。所以 即使有时我意识到现在这个作品偏离了我之前作为一位艺术家的轨道，但的确这就是我现在的所思所想。作为一名艺术 家，我一直都在试图使我的作品反映出我同所在的地方的关系；我在路易斯安那州生活的时候，人们都觉得我就是典型 的路易斯安那人，那只不过是我作为创作者的身份使然。但是在这里，情形变得有些复杂起来，因为我们都在吸收、借 鉴当地文化。在这里就是有那么一些传统充满诱惑力，让你想要成为其中的一份子。我想很多外国艺术家都和我有同 感，他们也都在努力思索如何与这个陌生的国度建立起联系。所以吸收当地文化既是一种生存机制，也是一种职业策 略。我想，看着这座城市逐渐变成国际都市，看着越来越多的艺术家从各地来到这里，这将是一件很有意思的事情。 在创作时我经常思考的一个问题就是，我侨居中国的经历同我父母二战后以政治难民的身份移民到纽约的经历有怎样 的关系。我总是认为我这种局外人的视角是因为我父母亲在美国也将自己视为为局外人，并且我也同样对那个国家没有 归属感。所以即使在我自己的文化里，我也是由外向里看，试图了解当地人的生活方式。当然，同传统移民相比，侨居 者的生活完全不同，也不是人们所认为的外国人。但是突然成为移民，在一个外国文化中体验一番，也的确是一件有意 思的事情。���想起了小时候的一些东西，它们都是我家里的一些朋友战后在德国难民营时制作的。他们能讨到什么，便 做什么，只是为了不让自己闲着；而我现在也是在做同样的事情，只是更多的是为了文化揭示。我觉得如果把这件作品 带给美国的华人，问问他们在美国是否也注意到一些我未曾注意的东西，将会很有意思。或许对于某个洗发水瓶子，我 未曾注意过，因为这个词汇对我来说太过熟悉了，然而一个移民可能会说：“你能相信这个东西对于揭示美国文化有着 多大的作用吗？”我想，从别人那里获得局外人的眼光将会非常有意思。
陈幸宇 上海 2011年3月
陈幸宇，艺术批评家，当代艺术专家，现居上海。她是《中国艺术家：新媒体1990-2010》的作者，这本书解读了19位以新媒体创作 的中国艺术家，由Schiffer出版社于今年出版。她还是Yishu Journal，Art Asia Pacific, the International Herald Tribune, Sculpture Magazine, 和 Nukta Art的 撰稿人。之前曾任Time Out Shanghai的艺术编辑及ArtInfo驻上海记者。除写作以外，她还通过自己的上海文化公司组织上 海艺术旅行。陈幸宇在纽约长大，在佛蒙特明德学院研究画室艺术，2002年便居住在上海。
THIS PHENOMENAL CITY: Christina Shmigel’s Shanghai, in St. Louis 2011 by Peter MacKeith
Row one (from the top, of eight), drawer five (from the left, of eight): compartments one and two are joined as one, and compartments three and four are joined as one – the drawer is divided in half by one vertical divider. The drawer is unlined. Seen in its entirety, the drawer is occupied by a shortened wooden-handled dust-mop, its mass of curling bright pink and dull blue striped cloth fronds crowding the forward compartment, together with scissorcut patterned cloth remnants. Opening, peering into – reaching into - each of the 67 drawers of Christina Shmigel’s Foreigner’s Cabinet of Chinese Curiosities slows and expands time. One of the three installation elements of her solo exhibition This City, Daily Rising, the massive brown-black wooden cabinet’s meticulously conceived and constructed contents possess both material density and palpable tactility. Simply to catalog the contents of the drawers takes days; to appreciate fully their microcosmic worlds - each a selective condensation of the artist’s daily, lived phenomenal experiences of the city of Shanghai, of China itself – consumes weeks. Indeed, impressed into the patina of the cabinet are the five years encompassing its selection and acquisition, its accumulation of materials, its individual installations, its final shipping, customs processing and gallery placement. The slowed, expanded time-sense suffuses the monolithic cabinet, enhancing its mystery, gravity and magnetism. The box of boxes is, in one and the same long moment, the abstraction of China; or the specificity of Shanghai; or the imagined contemporary hyper-city; or a day in the life of that city; or Shmigel herself, living that life in that city; or each of us, positioning ourselves in our own cities. Time slowed and expanded through such means converts to an expansion of space, an enhancement of our awareness of place.
Row two (from the top, of eight), drawer three (from the left, of eight): compartments one and two (joined as one), a bundled sprig of dried twigs, bound in pink nylon twine; compartment three, a cardboard scale model of a dormer window atop a tiled roof; compartment four, empty. This City, Daily Rising: the white-walled gallery, its high ceiling structured by exposed wooden beams, is a roughly square box, entered at its southeast corner. Arrayed across the gray-painted floor is a composition of objects, holding three territories, each object with a distinct position, each object in a tense relation to the others. Directly ahead, a tall, dark wooden cabinet, its surface punctuated with an eight-by-eight grid of drawer compartments, each compartment still faintly labeled with constellations of Chinese characters, its upper drawers – above head height – accessible by a black step-block. Behind and around the cabinet are stacks of glass vitrines, precariously balanced, each containing intricate constructions. Dispersed across the remaining floor surface, a whimsical mélange of colored plastic, nylon, and bamboo forms; the seeming flotsam and jetsam of an unnamed, unknown, exotic city blown by the jet stream into this temporary pattern in this temporary display.
Row three (from the top, of eight), drawer two (from the left, of eight): compartment one, two miniature white porcelain ducks, posed atop an angled red-silk lined surface; compartments two and three (joined as one), two tiger-striped nautilus shells, nestled in a crumpled bedding of red silk, with golden embroidered Chinese characters; compartment four, a silk-lined box filled to its brim with multi-colored paper and plastic confetti. Shmigel now approaches eight years in Shanghai, having arrived from the Midwest United States (by way of New York, Providence, and North Carolina) as an established artist and educator, with a substantial body of work accomplished in drawing, welding, blacksmithing, assemblage and installation. Her previous work drew from the agricultural and industrial landscapes of the Midwest, revealing through scalar, precise constructions of intensely tactile found and fabricated objects a delicate, fragile intimacy amidst the monumental farming structures, water towers, and grain silos lining the plains’ horizon. Shmigel’s determined method of ordering (in proportion and in seriality)
and composing (often with a sense of the picturesque) her chosen constructive elements have sought constantly both to locate, and to animate, a sense of place - a home landscape of resonant material substance and emotional depth.
Row four (from the top, of eight), drawer seven (from the left, of eight): compartments one and two present five smaller compartments, each lined in yellow, each containing a green-glazed ceramic architectural element for a miniature Chinese garden: a bridge, a pagoda-tower, pavilions. Compartment three is faced by chipboard modeled building façade, divided in nine squares, surmounted by a low pediment; the façade’s squares are layered in red, black and white newsprint of numbers and characters. Compartment four presents a miniature cylindrical pagoda, three orange roof tiers supported by a circle of bright red columns. Common wisdom circulating among expatriates holds that the “event-horizon” for living abroad is ten years; that after a decade apart from the rhythms and expectations of the home country, a return is all but impossible, so radically does the sense of “home” invert. In the case of Shanghai, and Christina Shmigel’s re-location there, however, a greater inversion of both her home landscape and her artistic practice can scarcely be imagined: the horizontal, dispersed suburban American city exchanged for the vertical, densely populated Asian hyper-city; the emptied agricultural/industrial horizons exchanged for the utterly congested skylines of neon-signage, scaffolding, and competing building crowns; the reliance on the quality of local craft and fabrication exchanged for a consumptive consumerist culture of throwaway products; the literary qualities of her thought and work exchanged for the complexities posed by a new language and new patterns of receiving information, to name only a few such dramatic and distressing inversions. Within such a transformed context, what might possibly be transferable? What could possibly be the means to resuming productive work?
Row five (from the top, of eight), drawer seven (from the left, of eight): compartment one, a tangle of pink nylon filament, pale green plastic ribbon, yellow woven cord; compartment two, a lowered surface of pastel-colored glued paper striping; compartment three, a congested variety of paper and silk flowers, small buds to full blooms, red-oranges to sky-blues; compartment four, a ball of pink nylon twine held within a fluorescent blue net. Shmigel’s ambitions, references and techniques in her artistry possess a clear architectural sensibility, demonstrative of the ideals and potentials of that discipline while maintaining an assured artistic focus and integrity. If the Midwest landscape of the United States offered a powerful context in which to operate on such a sensibility, the converse of that context offered by the Shanghai cityscape, and by the dynamic of contemporary Chinese culture, offered an equally potent atmosphere in which to address the necessity of orientation, way-finding and place-making. In a 2005 Harper’s Magazine article published shortly after Shmigel’s arrival, for example, staff writer Mark Kingwell outlined the thrill, challenges and outright strangeness of the city, for architects, inhabitants – and surely, artists:
“Every architecture student, really every city dweller, should visit Shanghai for a lesson in the aesthetics of architectural ambition. Complain as we may about the design compromises forced on Western cities by overlapping interest groups, setback restrictions, health standards, and public financing, the results at the other end of the scale are far more unnerving. At the asymptotic edge of design freedom lies a sparkling, overgrown, hyperscaled city of bright nightmares, sometimes beautiful, often strange, always oppressive. Shanghai is modern urbanism on a speed high, rambling and incoherent, with a lump of shopaholic emptiness at its center. Nowhere else is the promise of architectural emancipation, that dream of modernism, more vividly broken. Architecture will not set us free, no matter how hard – how high and fast – it tries.”
In these senses, Shanghai is both distressingly emblematic and mesmerizingly singular as a locus of our contemporary urban condition – and as such, its character and experience becomes the necessary, provocative, even logical, subject of artistic observation and expression. Indeed, it might be argued that a better place for Shmigel to ply her
craft of artistic alchemy could scarcely be imagined.
Row six (from the top, of eight), drawer five (from the left, of eight): compartments one and two are empty. Compartment three has a partial lid, surfaced in red, white and blue horizontal stripes, the space beneath it is lined with blue-colored foamcore. Compartment four is again empty. The drawer verges on emptiness, a near-nothing box. In his essay, “On the Impossibility of Drawing a Map of the Empire on a Scale of 1 to 1,” Umberto Eco provides an aptly Chinese parable of ambition in representation. At the command of the Emperor, the physical act of mapping the empire through measurement is paralleled by the simultaneous act of plotting those measurements at 1 to 1 scale onto a paper surface layered atop the very territory it maps – an absurdly impossible task, which drains the emperor’s resources and endangers the sanity of all those involved. Eco’s observations are commentaries for the linguist, of course, but also for the philosopher and the artist: how can we accurately describe the world to ourselves and to others? How can we comprehend its physical measure and its qualitative character? In pursuit of an understanding of Shanghai as place, her place, despite all its disorientations, Shmigel directs us to a radical site-specificity, a technique of mapping through distilled, ordered appeals to our senses. Wisely, she has opted for the opposite strategy of the Emperor – the deliciously condensed word, the color and flavor-saturated phrase, poetry over prose – an architectural ploy, it could be said, of “less is more.” Yet, her approach is neither materially reductivist nor aesthetically minimalist; rather, the work’s phenomenal character is both intensely personal and immediately accessible, artfully balanced between emotive suggestiveness and forensic particularity. Such a technique maps terrains both physical and psychological: Shmigel’s site is both Shanghai and herself, of course, and by extension, each of us.
Row seven (from the top, of eight), drawer four (from the left, of eight): compartments one to four remain distinctly separated by their dividing panels, and each compartment is lined on all four sides with yellow-green silk embroidered with red and yellow flowers. Yet all four compartments are seemingly joined through their dividing
panels by the conjoined yellow plastic cylinders of a domestic cleaning product; the cylinders are attached, tip to tip with a spiral of ribbed blue plastic tubing. Each of us, rising above the city, Shmigel intimates in her second, floor-based composition, City in Which I Love You; each of us, able to drift omnisciently through the city’s fluorescently colored avenues, scaffolded constructions, ornamented pinnacles. Liberated from the categorical imperatives of the cabinet’s drawers and compartments, or the adjacent stacked volumes of vitrines – The View in Fragments - the scattered evidence of Shmigel’s Shanghai punctuates the gallery floor, as if emerging from a low layer of cloud cover. The shifts in scale and vantage point between the installations groupings are abrupt, immediate and effective: from the focused, almost obsessive urban intimacies of each drawer or vitrine to the seemingly detached aerial perspective afforded by the adjacent dispersion of vertical structures and objects, from the physical and psychological containment and compression of experience to illuminated, self-directed trajectories of movement and expanded horizons. Between the three groupings of forms lies the essence of Shmigel’s achievement: her vision is at once dizzyingly monumental and urban, and at once tangibly intimate and domestic, simultaneously the lightheartedness of the contemporary Luftmensch and the passionate attachment to identifiable place sought by so many others. This achievement occupies the tragically bittersweet territories of artistic expression and human desire explored by so many, from the miniature urban landscapes found in the settings and backgrounds of Giotto’s paintings to Harold Lloyd’s cinematic search for love in the big city in Safety Last. But the accomplishment is only enhanced by such referential company. In her own language of observation, appropriation, hand-crafted artisanry, and subtle installation, Shmigel addresses the fundamental complexities of place and identity with sensitivity, intelligence, and wry humor. Phenomenal, indeed.
Row eight (from the top, of eight), drawer two (from the left, of eight): compartment one holds an intricately folded green and red patterned paper blossom. Compartment two holds an intricately folded purple and red patterned paper blossom. Compartment three holds a small rectangular tin display box; its glass top reveals four interior compartments containing dried herbs. Compartment four holds an intricately folded blue and red patterned paper blossom.
Peter MacKeith is Associate Dean of the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, Washington University in St. Louis and Associate Professor of Architecture. He directed the international Masters Program in architecture at the Helsinki University of Technology from 1994-1999 and previously taught design and architectural theory at Yale University and the University of Virginia. In 1998, he was Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Architecture, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. MacKeith has worked in practices in both the United States and Finland and has written and lectured extensively in the United States, Finland, and across the Nordic countries on the work of Alvar Aalto, and on contemporary Finnish and Nordic architecture in general. A past editor of Perspecta: The Yale Architectural Journal (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1988), he is also the author and/or editor of The Finland Pavilions: Finland at the Universal Expositions 1900-1992 (Helsinki: City Publishers, 1992), Encounters: Architectural Essays, a selection of essays by Juhani Pallasmaa (Helsinki: Rakennustieto, Building Information, Ltd., 2005), The Dissolving Corporation: Contemporary Architecture and Corporate Identity in Finland (Helsinki: The Finnish Institute for Business and Policy Studies (EVA), 2005), and Archipelago, Essays of Architecture (Helsinki: Rakennustieto, Building Information, Ltd., 2006), among others. His analytical drawings of Aalto’s buildings were included in the 1998 MoMA Aalto retrospective and was coordinating curator for the 2009 exhibition Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future at the Kemper Art Museum, Washington University. MacKeith is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship and research grants from The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts. In 2008, he received a Creative Achievement in Design Education Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA). He is currently the Editor of The SOM Journal, a journal of architecture history, theory, criticism and professional practice. This essay is one in a series of the gallery’s exhibitions written by fellow gallery artists and friends.
Endnotes: 1. “The City of Tomorrow: searching for the future of architecture in Shanghai,” Mark Kingwell, Harper’s Magazine, February 2005, pp. 62-71. 2. “On the Impossibility of Mapping the Empire on a Scale of 1 to 1,” Umberto Eco, How to Travel with a Salmon.
AFTERWORD by Bruno L. David I am pleased to present a solo-exhibition by Christina Shmigel entitled “This City, Daily Rising” with the gallery. Support for the creation of significant new works of art has been the core to the mission and program of the Bruno David Gallery since its founding. Christina Shmigel’s remarkable and compelling sculptures and installations make her one the most impressive artist of the gallery. I would like to express my sincere thanks to Peter MacKeith for his thoughtful essay and to Xhingyu Chen for her insightful interview with Christina which took place in Shanghai, China in March 2011. I am deeply grateful to Yoko Kiyoi, who lent much time, talent, and expertise to the production of this catalogue and to Megan Vallowe for editing the interview. Christina Shmigel’s first solo US exhibition since 2005, is composed of three interrelated installations. Continually shifting between macro- and microcosmic views, the installations are emblematic of her play with scale and size, intimacy and monumentality, and create for the viewer something of the vibrancy & intensity of Shanghai (China), the city where she now lives and works. There is much in this exhibition that springs from the local knowledge of Shanghai but also much that speaks to more universal themes. How do we decipher and interpret experience, making meaning amidst that which is foreign to us? How do we come to know the world thru association and memory and projection? And, most importantly, the question that has always been central to Shmigel’s work, how do the inanimate things that we build and that we surround ourselves with, reveal the nature of our humanity? In the tradition of European “wunderkammers” and Ming and Qing Dynasty curio boxes, the installations Foreigner’s Cabinet of Chinese Curiosities is an idiosyncratic attempt to catalogue and preserve a culture through its material possessions. The View In Fragments, a gathering of seemly abandoned glass vitrines, some empty, some containing expanded versions of the architectural structures found in the cabinet’s drawers, continues Shmigel’s archiving impulse. As in her St Louis work, here Shmigel preserves the architecture that the city’s dwellers actively overlook. Dystopic white tiled buildings, blue pre-fab migrant worker housing, teetering rooftop pigeon coops: the vitrines present what is most uncelebrated is as though precious. City in Which I Love You echoes the materials and references of the cabinet and the vitrines but looks with a bird’s eye view on the city, mimicking its ubiquitous building scaffolding, the pulsating color of its neon, its manic growth & temporality. In Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, Kublai Khan suggests to Marco Polo that perhaps we take pleasure in a city not because of the question it answers, but because of the question it asks of us, “forcing [us] to answer”.
CHECKLIST & IMAGES OF THE EXHIBITION
The City in Which I Love You: Da Shi Jie (Great World Sheathed)
2011, Mixed media 56 x 24 x 17 inches
The City in Which I Love You: Da Shi Jie (Great World Sheathed) (detail) 29
The City in Which I Love You: Water Tower with Companion (detail - view) 2011, Mixed media
The City in Which I Love You: Water Tower with Companion (detail - view) 2011, Mixed media
Foreignerâ€™s Cabinet of Chinese Curiosities 2011, Mixed media (with 67 filled drawers) 77 x 53 x 52 inches 32
Foreignerâ€™s Cabinet of Chinese Curiosities (drawers - detail) 2011, Mixed media (with 67 filled drawers)
Foreignerâ€™s Cabinet of Chinese Curiosities (drawers - detail) 2011, Mixed media
Foreignerâ€™s Cabinet of Chinese Curiosities (drawers - detail) 2011, Mixed media
This City, Daily Rising, 2011 Installation view - detail 39
This City, Daily Rising, 2011 Installation view - detail 40
The City in Which I Love You: White Hose (3 Elements) 2011, Mixed media 47 x 58 x 42 inches (size variable)
The City in Which I Love You: Untitled 2 2011, Mixed media 18-1/8 x 11 x 9 inches
The City in Which I Love You: Blue Hose #2 2011, Mixed media 12-1/4 x 32-3/4 x 2-1/2 inches
The View in Fragments: Auspicious Phone #
2011, Mixed media 13-1/2 x 14-5/16 x 8-7/8 inches
The View in Fragments: Stripey Scaffold #2 2011, Mixed media 21 x 23 x 8 inches top right:
The View in Fragments: Seated 2011, Mixed media 6-1/4 x 4-3/4 x 6-1/2 inches bottom right:
The View in Fragments: White Tile Building (front) 2011, Mixed media 13-5/8 x 12 x 8 inches
The View in Fragments: Recycler 2011, Mixed media 8-1/2 x 14 x 13-1/2 inches
The View in Fragments: Mops 2011, Mixed media 8-1/2 x 12-6/8 x 6-1/4 inches
The View in Fragments: Nouveau Riche (front)
2011, Mixed media 25-1/2 x 11-7/8 x 11-15/16 inches 47
This City, Daily Rising, 2011 Installation view - detail 48
This City, Daily Rising, 2011 Installation view - detail 49
This City, Daily Rising, 2011 Installation view - detail 50
This City, Daily Rising, 2011 Installation view - detail 51
This City, Daily Rising, 2011 Installation view - detail 52
This City, Daily Rising, 2011 Installation view - detail 53
This City, Daily Rising, 2011 Installation view - detail 54
This City, Daily Rising, 2011 Installation view - detail 55
This City, Daily Rising, 2011 Installation view - detail 56
This City, Daily Rising, 2011 Installation view - detail 57
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT The artist gives great thanks to Yu Ji, Carmen Beier, Jim Little and her parents, Nadia and Myroslaw Shmigel, for all they did to bring this exhibition into being. An extra dollop of great thanks goes to Patrick Moreton who made it all possibleâ€Ś
CHRISTINA SHMIGEL Lives and works in Shanghai, China
EDUCATION M.F.A. (Metals), Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, Illinois 1993 M.F.A. (Sculpture), Brooklyn College, New York, 1987 B.F.A. (Painting), Rhode Island School of Design, 1980
SELECTED ONE-PERSON EXHIBITIONS 2011 Bruno David Gallery, Christina Shmigel: This City, Daily Rising, St Louis, MO. January 21 - March 5 2007 Bruno David Gallery, Christina Shmigel, St Louis, MO. November (Project Room) 2006 Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art, The View from Afar: An Installation by Christina Shmigel, curated by Biljana Ciric and Huang Yuelin, Shanghai, China, January 2005 Laumeier Sculpture Park, Christina Shmigel: Chinese Garden for the Delights of Roaming Afar, The Kranzberg Exhibition Series, St. Louis, MO, June 24 – August 30 2003 Saint Louis University Museum, (Project Room), Betwixt and Between, St. Louis, MO, January 23 – July 11 2002 Saint Louis Art Museum, Currents 57: Christina Shmigel, St. Louis, MO, December 6, 2002 – February 16, 2003 2001 Hunt Gallery, Christina Shmigel, St. Louis Webster University, St. Louis, MO, September. Gallery W.D.O, Christina Shmigel, Charlotte, NC. October 2000 Bonsack Gallery, Christina Shmigel, St. Louis, MO. January 1999 Thomas K. Lang Gallery, Christina Shmigel, Vienna, Austria 1998 Quartersaw Gallery, Christina Shmigel, Portland, OR. 1995 Gallerie Simonne Stern, Christina Shmigel, New Orleans, LA 1994 Green Hill Center for North Carolina Art, Christina Shmigel, Greensboro, NC 1992 Gallerie Simonne Stern, Christina Shmigel, New Orleans, LA 1991 West Baton Rouge Museum, Christina Shmigel, Port Allen, LA
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS 2010 Dubble Happiness, Studio Double Happiness, Hong Kong, May Recession Rejuvenations, Bruno David Gallery, St Louis, MO, July-August Make Over/Cover Up, OV Gallery, Shanghai, China, January 2009 Overview_09, Bruno David Gallery, St Louis, MO 2008 Overview_08, Bruno David Gallery, St Louis, MO 2007 Overview_07, Bruno David Gallery, St Louis, MO 2006 Overview, Bruno David Gallery, St Louis, MO 2005 Inaugural Exhibition, Bruno David Gallery, St Louis, MO, October Dawn Light, Gosford Regional Gallery, East Gosford, NSW, Australia 2004 1984 â€” 2004 Twentieth Anniversary Celebration, Elliot Smith Contemporary Art, St. Louis, MO Curated by Bruno L. David Women Only, Elliot Smith Contemporary Art, St. Louis, MO. Curated by Bruno L. David 2003 A Social Affair, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN Regarding Objects, Sheldon Art Galleries, St. Louis, MO 2002 ArtCache, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, MO A New Era of Sculpture, National Museum of History, Taipei 2001 Ancient Futures, Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design, Halifax, Canada 2000 International Environmental Art Symposium, Seoul, South Korea Ironing, National Ornamental Metals Museum, Memphis, TN Group Exhibition, John Elder Gallery, New York, NY 1999 Kunst in der Landschaft, GutGasteil Gallery, Gasteil, Austria 1998 Women of Iron, Asheville Art Museum, Asheville, NC Bottomland, Forum for Contemporary Art, (now Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis) St. Louis, MO 1997 Drawing Invitational, Galerie Simonne Stern, New Orleans, LA 1996 Dwellings, Dunedin Fine Arts Center, Dunedin, FL 1995 Drawings, Marcia Woods Gallery, Atlanta, GA
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY MacKeith, Peter. “This Phenomenal City”, Catalogue Essay, Bruno David Gallery Publications, April 2011 Chen, Xhingyu. “Chistina Shmigel: Interview”, Catalogue Interview, Bruno David Gallery Publications, April 2011 Baran, Jessica. “Chistina Shmigel”, Riverfront Times, March 3, 2011 Cooper, Ivy. “Shmigel brings Shanghai to life,” St. Louis Beacon, February 23, 2011 Bealle, Dickson. “Art Missing at an Exhibition,” Video Interview, stlouisan.com, February 2011 Movius, Lisa. “In Shanghai, A Curious Cabinet,” Wall Street Journal, Dec, 16, 2011 Peckham, Robin. “Make-Over,” ArtForum, February 18, 2010 Cooper, Ivy. “Recession Rejuvenations”, St. Louis Beacon, August 2, 2010 Baran, Jessica. “Recession Rejuvenations,” Riverfront Times, August 25, 2010 Movius, Lisa. “Art Review: Make-Over,” City Weekend (cityweekend.com), Feb. 23, 2010 OV Gallery. “Make Over/Cover Up,” OV Gallery, 2010. Catalog Catching, Rebecca. “Open House,” Urbanatomy (shanghai.urbanatomy.com). May 1, 2008 Cooper, Ivy. “Christina Shmigel: Laumeier Sculpture Park,” Sculpture Magazine, March 2006, Vol. 25, No. 6 Tao, Zhou. “Curious Creations,” Shanghai Daily. Jan, 26, 2006 Kun, Zhang. “Chinese Garden Through American Eyes,” China Daily. Jan 13, 2006 , Metro pg. 4 Xhingyu, Chen. “Pop Goes the Easel: Christina Shmigel Pops in Shanghai,” That’s Shanghai. Jan 2006, pg.35 Bonetti, David. “Christina Shmigel: Chinese Garden for the Delights of Roaming Afar,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch. July 24, 2005 Cooper, Ivy. “Current Shows:Christina Shmigel: Chinese Garden for the Delights of Roaming Afar,” Riverfront Times. St Louis, MO. July 13, 2005 Watkin, Mel. “Christina Shmigel at St. Louis University Museum of Art,” Art in America. Jan 2005, Vol. 1, P.133 Cory “A Social Affair climbs so hard…,” The Commercial Appeal. Memphis, TN, Nov 23, 2003, F6 Cooper, Ivy. “Review of Regarding Objects,” Riverfront Times. June, 2003 Castro, Jan. “Reviews: St. Louis, Christina Shmigel, St. Louis Art Museum,” Sculpture. June 2003, Vol.22 No 6, pgs. 72-73 Allen, Michael. “Beautiful Pipes: Reflections on Christina Shmigel’s The Logic of Attachment,” Confluence. April-May 2003, Vol. 9,No.2 Daniels, Jeff. “Sculptor Turns Pipe Dreams Into Art,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Sunday, Dec 15, 2002, pg. C11 Cooper, Ivy. “Inside Out: Shmigel evokes our gutted past without dewy-eyed nostalgia,” Riverfront Times. Dec 18-24, 2002, pg. 59 Zapf, Rudy. “SLAM Goes Local,” Playback. January 2003, pg.22 _____________ The First International Sculpture Exhibition 2002. Catalog, National Museum of History, Kaohsiung, Taipei, pgs. 12, 24-25 _____________ Currents 87: Christina Shmigel, St. Louis Art Museum Magazine. Oct.-Dec. 2002, pg. 14 Burris, Claudia. “Sculptor Christina Shmigel, Forging Ahead with Her Art and Teaching at Webster University”, Webster World. Fall, 2001, Vol 7, No 2, pgs. 2 -5 _____________ Ancient Futures: The Art of the Blacksmith at the Third Millennium. Catalog for the exhibition at the Mary E. Black Gallery Nova Scotia Center for Craft and Design, p. 11
______________ “The Fine Arts: Henry’s Plumbing,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Thurs, August 30, pg.28 ______________ Kunst in der Landschaft V. Gut Gasteil, Prigglitz, Austria, pgs. 18-19, 62 Daniels, Jeff. “Art Review: Landscapes go in all directions as far as the eye can see,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch. July 9, 2000. Meilach, Dona. Decorative & Sculptural Ironwork: Tools, Techniques & Inspiration. Schiffer Publishing, Atglen, PA. 1999. Color reproduction of sculptural work “Shall We Gather at the River.” Hanson, Bobby. The Fine Art of the Tin Can. Lark Books: Asheville, NC, pg. 125 _____________ ”Women’s Work,” The Anvil’s Ring. Vol. 22, Winter 1995-6, pp.34 Marger, Mary Ann. Where the Art Dwells,” Times. Tampa, FL. March 22, 1996, p.25 McLLelan, Marian. “Shmigel’s Sentinels,” New Orleans Art Review. Jan – Feb 1995, cover photo and review, p. 16 –17 Duffy, Robert. “The Ship of the Unconscious,”St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Sept. 15, 1995, p. 28 Burkhardt, Eric. “The Art of the Tower,” Gambit, New Orleans Weekly. Jan 17, 1995. p, 35 Waddington, Chris. Teetering Towers for a Toppling Nation, The Times Picayune, Lagniappe. New Orleans, LA, p.14 Patterson, Tom. “Four Artists in Solo Shows Make the Case for Beauty,” Winston-Salem Journal. GRANTS & AWARDS Forum for Contemporary Art (now Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis), St.Louis. Project Room Grant, 2001-02 Penland School, Residency. Funded by the NEA & the Warhol Foundation, 2001 Forum for Contemporary Art (now Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis), St.Louis. Project Room Grant, 1998 Penland School of Crafts, NC. Artist-in-Residence, 1993-95 Southern Arts Federation Fellowship. Finalist, 1995 SELECTED PUBLIC COLLECTIONS
The View in Fragments on the Bund, M Restaurant Group, Blaour Bar, Shanghai, China Garden for the Floating Life, Greensboro Public Library, Hemphill Branch, Greensboro, North Carolina 2004 Industrial Roccoco, Grand Hall, Ziegler House, St. Louis, MO 2004 Bus Shelter Pipe Dreams, Arts-in-Transit Public Art in Action, St. Louis, MO 2003 TEACHING Webster University, St. Louis, MO. Assoc. Professor, Sculpture, 1995 – 2006 Penland School of Crafts, NC. Workshops, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2002 University of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette. Asst. Professor, 1987-90
CAPTIONS Page 31
The small wooden chairs were collected by the artist on the streets of Shanghai. To the western eye, the chairs seem scaled for chil- dren but they are actually for adults.
The Cabinet, perhaps 100 years old, was formerly used to store the roots and herbs of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine.) In the tradition of European wunderkammers and the curio boxes of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the artist used the cabinet’s 67 compart mentalized drawers to preserve something of the city’s particular character in its time of rapid change. Several themes connect the contents of the cabinet: childhood; love and marriage; quotidian life; medicine; architecture; art and craft; death, loss and the after life. The remains of the medicines found in the cabinet are housed in tin & glass containers. Their placement in the outer most drawers creates a meridian line in the cabinet, mimicking those believed by TCM to carry energy throughout the human body.
Top: The Chinese character chai (demolish) is painted on to building walls as a portent of changes to come. Bottom: White Cat Liquid Soap, once the high-end brand of Shanghai, and blue plumbing hose, ubiquitous in old neighborhoods
Captions correspond from left to right & top to bottom: 1. Old Brands: Guang Ming, Shanghai ice cream company; container w/ TCM; Darlie toothpaste; White Rabbit taffy 2. Firecracker packaging with “services rendered” sticker of the kind stuck to everything in the city; Pom-pom from Beijing Opera headdress; Hai Bao, the mascot of the 2010 World Expo, aspiring to multi-cultural inclusiveness; model of temporary wall of the type that springs up overnight once a neighborhood block has been demolished, also overnight. 3. Beijing Opera headdress embellishments
4. Remains of Chinese New Year firecracker on traditional Nanjing Blue cloth; Ming Dynasty tea bowls decorated with “Double Hap piness” character on fabrics traditionally used for wedding trousseau. 5. Things received at weddings: favors from the Chinese year of the Ox; Double Happiness matches and cigarettes; sequined heart favors; flip book of the first dance from the artist’s own wedding. 6. The Peach of Immortality: Polystyrene fruit protector; model of pre-fab temporary housing for “the floating population” of migrant construction workers; water container for ink painting, embellished w/ the peach, the pineapple of hospitality & the citron known as “Buddha’s hand”; plastic liquid candy containers. The peach is associated w/ Lao Shouxing, the God of Longevity, represented in the drawer by an image from a telephone card (not visible). 7. Local living: spent charcoal briquette used for cooking in a steel brazier, now seen only in areas where people live in what locals
describe as “the old style.” (The briquette is included as a memorial to the artist’s former housekeeper who died, along with her family, from asphyxiation by carbon monoxide gas, a once common occurrence with this type of briquette.); container with TCM; model of the brick walls of a shikumen, a uniquely Shanghainese style of tenement housing; soap in package w/ image of street life in the shikumen, less idealized than one might think. 8. More weddings: confetti & “double happiness” tinsel; shells from artist’s honeymoon; ceramic chopstick holders from a Peking Duck restaurant in the shape of mandarin ducks, a traditional symbol of fidelity as ducks are believed to mate for life.
1. Striped mop made from remnant t-shirt fabric 2. Stripe pattern from polyethylene tarp used on construction sites; model of partially demolished traditional house; the character chai (demolish) 3. Firecracker packaging w/ “services rendered” sticker
4. Tian Tan (the Temple of Heaven, the structure from which the Emperor addressed the heavens with requests for a good harvest): toy construction model; container with TCM; package for Tian Tan balm, good for bug bites & headaches; Tian Tan tin on Chinese brocade cloth w/ the extremely popular cloud (homophone for good fortune) motif. 5. Model of common old-style window dormer; found fruit branch bundle, bound with omnipresent pink plastic packaging string 6. Housework: Tri-colored plastic bristle brooms; working women’s’ sleeve protectors, one in velour for winter, two in cotton for summer 7. Chinese knot tassels; tin goldfish toy which swallows a smaller fish (hidden inside); packaged tea from the famous Hu Xing Ting Teahouse in Yu Garden, Shanghai. The teahouse is reached by a zigzag bridge whose structure is meant to confuse whatever demons might be in hot pursuit. Apparently, only humans are devious enough to understand non-linear paths. 8. Plastic bushings; mother of pearl buttons; firecracker remains; plastic pinwheel flowers
Page 38 Viewers are encouraged to interact with the drawers of the cabinet.
Shanghai Mops: artist’s collection of hand-made mops
The City in Which I Love You looks with a bird’s eye view on the city, mimicking its ubiquitous building scaffolding, the pulsating color of its neon, its manic growth & temporality. (The title is borrowed from the Chinese poet Lee Young Li who makes his ex-pat home in Chicago.)
The View in Fragments is a gathering of seemly abandoned glass vitrines, some empty, some containing expanded versions of the architectural structures found in the cabinetâ€™s drawers. Auspicious Cell Numbers (Back & Front views) Derived from the booths of sellers of cell phone numbers, phone numbers containing 8 and 9 are particularly auspicious; the number 4, a homo phone with the word for death, is avoided entirely.
Bottom: White Tile Building: a classic style of Shanghai cast concrete architecture, always with blue glass windows Top left: Stripey Scaffolding Top right: Small green chair
Top: Styro Recycler: Mobile sculpture, a common sight on Shanghai streets Bottom: Wall with Mops
Nouveau Riche tile: white tile buildings improved by capitalismâ€™s ascent
The installation comprises found objects, objects constructed by the artist and objects in galvanized metal commissioned by the artist from a local tinsmith. The object in the center on page 52 is an oil pump made and sold by the tinsmith.
ARTISTS Margaret Adams Dickson Beall Laura Beard Elaine Blatt Martin Brief Lisa K. Blatt Shawn Burkard Bunny Burson Carmon Colangelo Alex Couwenberg
Damon Freed William Griffin Joan Hall Takashi Horisaki Kim Humphries Kelley Johnson Howard Jones (Estate) Chris Kahler Bill Kohn (Estate) Leslie Laskey
Patricia Olynyk Robert Pettus Daniel Raedeke Chris Rubin de la Borbolla Frank Schwaiger Charles Schwall Christina Shmigel Thomas Sleet Buzz Spector Lindsey Stouffer
Jill Downen Yvette Drury Dubinsky Corey Escoto Beverly Fishman
Sandra Marchewa Peter Marcus Genell Miller
Cindy Tower Mario Trejo Ken Worley