Ma Qiusha: Raw

2013. 07. 19-09. 12

Beijing Commune is pleased to announce the opening of Ma Qiusha’s third solo show “Raw” at the gallery. The show will present two video works and a photo series she has produced lately.

The core meaning of the word “raw” is “uncooked” or “being in its natural state”, “not processed or purified”. It is also a commonly used technical term for an image format: raw files are named so because they are not yet processed and therefore are not ready to be printed or edited. It is the initial state of a digital image before any further manipulation. For Ma Qiusha, an artist who has been working largely with video and photography, processing images is naturally part of her daily work. Her reflections on such adaptations or manipulations of the “raw” materials, in both literal and metaphorical sense, have developed into the three inter-connected pieces for the new show “Raw”.

The two projected videos take up the major walls of the dark space of the gallery. Rainbow, the one shot with high-definition camera, present to the viewers a dream-like scene: three teenage girls in the dress for figure skating are turning around, hand in hand, to mash the tomatoes under their skating shoes. The acnes on the young faces, the tiny meshes on the stockings over the vigorous legs, the splashing crimson juice of the fruit, the glowing edges of the glass vessels, and the blade of the skating shoes, all these details seem to be amplified or more vivid through the HD camera. On the opposite wall is Star, which shows sparkling spots flashing sporadically on an unidentifiable dark background. The video was shot in the bushes near the artist’s home on a summer night. The “stars” are in fact the burning moment of the bodies of insects killed by an electronic fly-swatter wielded around in the bushes. Shot in the natural condition without any artificial light, the scene may be easily misleading the viewers particularly with its beautiful title. The discrimination of the technical method of the two videos does not change the fact that both works are highly deceptive: “Rainbow” is a fantasy teemed with intensive details that look very “true” but are all, in fact, meticulously edited by the artist, while “Star”, which involves little post-production, presents a “romanticized ” killing moment shot with an ordinary video camera.

“Dan” is the title for the photographs in the lightened neighboring space. It is also the name of a girl who learnt painting with Ma Qiusha when she was a teenager. The images are taken from the albums of personal photos shared by Dan in her Qzone, Weibo(both are popular SNS used by the young people in China)or from her mobile phone, dated from 2005 to 2013, the years that witnessed her transformation from a schoolgirl to an artist herself, little by little. The original sizes of these images are very small as they were only everyday snapshots and are never supposed to be exhibited. Ma Qiusha printed the images on a set of “standardized” 100x100cm photo paper, on which vast blank is left around the small image in the center. The viewers are almost forced to go closer to the work to look at these low-definition snapshots via which Dan establishes her self-image, aesthetically, in the evolving social life of the girl. Meanwhile, echoing the videos, the manipulation of the viewers’ perception of this process is realized via the artist’s paradoxical use of the very “raw” (in the sense of “unprocessed”) images and the ruthless, standardized void she adds to these images.

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