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Buffalo Beijing: Translation | Review in Artvoice

September 29, 2011  by: Dom

From Artvoice:

The UB Center for the Arts works are collaborative works between UB students and students from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, sometimes with art faculty in on the collaboration.

A three-channel video installation by Katrina Boemig, Yang Xin, Necole Zayatz, and Luo Wei is specifically about the exchange experience. In imagery and words, sometimes aural, sometimes as text, sometimes in English, sometimes in Chinese, sometimes in sign language, the work is about the difficulty of communication across cultural, and particularly verbal language, barriers. As the sporadic on-screen text states, “Some things were impossible to translate…but we will try again and again…And that’s what makes us all the same, and that’s what makes us all different.”

The collaboration between Christopher Fox and Liu Ling Zi is about the discovery of similarities as well as differences between cultures. A portion of their work consists of photos of industrial ruins or remnants in Buffalo, and strikingly similar industrial remnant scenes in Beijing. Another portion consists of impromptu video interviews of Beijing residents, confronting them with the question, “What do you seek?” In broad or specific terms, however the interviewee thought to interpret it. Some were dismayed and declined to answer. One man kept repeating, “It’s hard to say. It’s hard to say,” and finally said, “This is a torture.” Several of the interviewees said, “Dreams.” One old man said, “There are no dreams left.”

Another work, called Glass Box, is a by Luo Zilong, Marc Tomko, and Caitlin Cass. It consists of a large wood and steel walk-in box, in the center of which, on a pedestal, is the glass box, quite empty, of the title. A kind of physical Zen—Chan in Chinese—koan. On the inner walls of the large box are myriad drawings and notes in English and Chinese and math, some seemingly related—but in cryptic and enigmatic ways—to the glass box mystery, some possibly not.

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Related post: Buffalo Beijing: Translation

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