Li Mu - A Man, A Village, A Museum - Part of The Collection Now
Li Mu - A Man, A Village, A Museum Part of The Collection Now
In the video installation and book A Man, A Village, A Museum, the Chinese artist Li Mu brings the inhabitants of Qiuzhuang, his hometown, in contact with modernist artworks from the collection of the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven.
The project started in 2010, after the Van Abbemuseum had worked with Li Mu in Shanghai for the World Expo. Soon after, the artist proposed organising an exhibition in his home village of Qiuzhuang, using works from the museum’s collection. Qiuzhuang is a village of around 1,000 inhabitants, located about 7,500km from Eindhoven and 800km south of Beijing. It has no museum of its own and little connection to the history of western modernity. Yet, this was the world into which Li Mu had stepped since his education as an artist. Li Mu wanted to use this project to bring his family and acquaintances in the town into contact with European and American art. He wanted, in part, to try to reconcile where he came from and where he was going—to bridge a gap that would inevitably transform both art and village in the process. At the same time, he asked himself how the works of art would function in this new environment, and what meaning they would take on there. For the museum, Li Mu’s idea created a new opportunity to learn about its collection. His question concerned the value and purpose of a modern art museum collection in the 21st century, and how a museum could take on board reactions from outside its familiar western frameworks.
After quickly rejecting the idea of shipping the physical objects to China, Li Mu set about reproducing the artworks of Sol LeWitt, Dan Flavin, Andy Warhol, John Körmeling, Ulay and Marina Ambramovic (amongst others). He worked together with the villagers for more than a year, painstakingly reconstructing works and placing them in the houses and streets of the village. The resulting film and book document life in the village, the production of the artworks, the reactions of residents, interested visitors and the process by which artworks and people influence each other.
A Man, A Village, A Museum has been acquired by the Van Abbemuseum and is on show as part of the collection exhibition The Collection Now from 19 September 2015.
Publication: A Man, A Village, A Museum
The presentation includes a 288-page book about the project, featuring entries from Li Mu’s diary, conversations with residents from the village, interviews, correspondence, and dozens of photographs and drawings. The book is published by Onomatopee and designed by Studio Joost Grootens. The publication was made possible with the help of Stichting Promotors Van Abbemuseum.
Charles Esche, Davide Quadrio, Christiane Berndes.