Date: Mar 4th 2014 3:47p.m.
Contributed by: helentroy

In OCT Contemporary Art Terminal's newest installation, Degeneration, ten artists explore the breakdown of societal expectations.


OCT Contemporary Art Terminal's new exhibit "Degeneration" is a dystopian exploration of 'the generational issue' in contemporary Chinese art. OCAT curator Mariagrazia Costantino says that the title refers to the deviation from one’s own genus, a dramatic shift occurring in all modern societies.


In "Degeneration," ten young artists from mainland China re-interpret this idea using video and photography to form a series of solo shows, each of which is framed within a concept pertinent to the development of society, such as identity, memory and vision. Here the artists obsessively reflect on what could emerge from a transgenerational era.


OCAT’s industrial space -- surrounded by remnants of Shanghai’s heritage architecture and ever-evolving construction -- provides the perfect backdrop for an exhibition that straddles different generations. While the fast-paced future the show proposes is shaped by traces of history and memory, it seems that all formal references to this authority must be dissolved.


The works spread out like a maze through low-lit rooms, where visitors can encounter unlikely treasures in dark corners. The first of these is Lu Yang’s Reanimation! Frog Zombie Underwater Ballet (2011), an experimental video exploring aspects of control.


The film focuses on a row of dissected frogs immersed in water, while a scientist / DJ employs electric currents to make their muscles twitch in time to music, appearing to defy death.


A common thread is the inevitability of degeneration, explored in the surreal scenes presented by Chen Wei. These depict the aftermath of some unimaginable and subtle catastrophe: in Fragile (2011) broken spectacles observe the remains of their smashed lenses; Ping Pong (2011) captures the dismal sight of an abandoned table, surrounded by broken balls.


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