The Residence [a wager for the afterlife] is a video project by Belgian artist-duo Katleen Vermeir & Ronny Heiremans [website], on display in Argos, Brussels, until April 1, 2012. Their new video focusses on the artist as entrepreneur in a global society that qualifies economy as the single measure of things and is the result of a six month residency in China in 2009-10. Besides the video, they also host the The Residence [reading room] – presenting itself as a discursive platform and a dense cabinet of curiosities in ExtraCity, Antwerp. During several Saturdays in the coming 2 months, ExtraCity will host a series of performances, screenings, lectures and book presentations. As part of this program, Bert de Muynck | MovingCities will lecture about The Creative City in China on Saturday March 10, 2012.
Introduction to The Residence [a wager for the afterlife]:
In more than one way the video relates to Faust, part 2, in which Goethe presents Faust as a project developer. Conceived during an extended residency in China (2009-10), the project initiated a collaboration with a Chinese artist/architect, Ma Wen. Sharing insights on the creative clusters concept Vermeir & Heiremans documented his practice as a cultural producer. The Residence (2012) is presented as a video installation, co-designed by Ma Wen. It features Ma Wen and two fictional characters. One is Hilar, a very wealthy investor who commissions the Chinese architect to develop a house for his afterlife. Through Hilar a world of economic fetishism opens up. The other is a rather allegorical character, enveloping a dozen roles, all of them performed by one actress.
Parallel to the inaugural presentation of the video installation in Argos Vermeir & Heiremans present The Residence [reading room], a discursive platform set up in close collaboration with Extra City, Antwerp. The project is conceived as a format for knowledge production, consisting of a number of public lectures and discussions. Performances, screenings, lectures and book presentations by Justin Bennett, Julia Bryan-Wilson, Bert De Muynck, Liu Ding, Christine Gerrard, Luis Jacob, Carol Yinghua Lu, Daniel McClean, John McTague, and Robrecht Vanderbeeken.
For program details and practical information please check ExtraCity.
As part of their work Vermeir & Heiremans created/wrote/composed a clever, insightful and fictional piece of text: A wager for the afterlife – interview: Ma Wen. It is an advised reading to gain more insight in the topic of Chinese creative industries, architectural development, artistic practices, creative clusters,… and not only because some of its content presents itself as a great remix of the Urban China#33 Creative China-issue we co-edited with Ned Rossiter back in 2009. An extract from the interview:
L.C.: Modern, urban, affluent, international… I’ve read that the successful artist is surprisingly fitting as a role model for the new China. The profession is even in the top ten of preferred professions, as selected by middle class parents for their children. How did it begin for you? Was it an intentional choice or…
M.W.: You see I’ve had this “bastard” training. I studied architecture in China. My training as an artist I got in the West, and what I absorbed during those years is based on a western social condition. This probably gave me an edge in China when I returned. As you know we have this old saying here: “The blossom inside the wall is usually appreciated from the outside.” Ever since the Open Door Policy, what comes from abroad has been quite influential. I’m not sure how long this will still be the case, and of course we are all aware of the situation in China, which does not exactly allow you to produce without restraints.