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Theatre Design of Northern Stage
Northern Stage contacted Wang Qingsong in early 2007 to ask whether he would be interested in responding both to our newly redeveloped theatre building and to the cultural renaissance in NewcastleGateshead. He travelled to the region on a research visit in February 2008 which was when the idea for Temporary Ward was born.
300 local volunteers were invited to appear in the photograph, which looked to explore the notion of pain and healing, and theatre as a cathartic experience for the audience. Both the final work and the process of making it ask questions about the nature of performance and its relationship to the still image.
On 13 September 2008 the project came to fruition, as Northern Stage worked with Wang Qingsong, and his photographic team on the unique live installation. The image took several days to set-up, and a full day to shoot. It was photographed within Stage 1 at Northern Stage, and transmitted live onto screens throughout the theatre.
For Northern Stages we wanted to get back in touch with Wang Qingsong to ask him to think about what Northernness means to an artist in Beijing. His response to our project is an exploration of this in relation to his work with Nordic artist Michel Heuvel. You can find this response online here in our Extras section.
Wang Qingsong was born in 1966 during the first year of the Cultural Revolution. His father died when he was 15, and to support himself he worked in the oil fields of South Central China for 8 years, applying 5 times to various art academies before being accepted at the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts, from where he graduated in 1991.
Now, an acclaimed contemporary artist, his large-scale, staged photographs are both ironic and humorous, hovering provocatively between fiction and reality. The tableaux he creates are bright and glossy, whilst calling to mind traditional Chinese paintings. His work has been cited as part of a contemporary Chinese movement, termed “Gaudy Art” by critic Li Xianting, exploring consumerism, and using familiar motifs from both popular culture of China and the West.
Where is it happening?