Ralo Mayer – I have no idea about this place but I am going to promote it


In 2008 the magazine of the German Max Planck Research Institute wanted some traditional Chinese calligraphy as nice decoration for its focus on China and published 5,000 copies with a cover that featured an advertisement for a brothel. Indeed one fabulous example of an idiotic Western fable for the “exotic Oriental touch,” and a great intro for this work. Thank you!

A three month art residency in Chengdu in 2008 was my first stay in China and I found it hard to follow my usual procedures and standards of artistic research in a context I know hardly anything about. It’s quite a short time to get to know this _fill in a billion attributes of projection_ place. I decided I’d rather state my own disarray and a (self-)critique of Western artists cannibalizing “cultural difference” (and an economic difference, at that).

The first problem might beattempting an intervention in a public space in the urban context of Chengdu, or so I found out in the preparations – getting permissions and collaborating for the translations of the banners. The problem of translation, transposition and communication is also at the base of this work: during my stay in China, I was impressed by my own inability to read the countless writings all over the city, especially the ubiquitous red banners hanging everywhere. They’re propaganda, commercials, welcomes and announcements, but also poetry, and they bring together the two histories of both the traditional Chinese use of public scripture and socialist propaganda. And most often they’re red, a distinct color of both mythologies. The intervention in Chengdu was aimed at two pretty diverse audiences: directly at the passersby and – through documentation and later exhibitions – at a more or less specialized (mostly Western) art audience: eight flying dragons in this symbolic grey sea.

Titles of the image files:
ihaveno.jpg - I have no idea about this place but I'm going to promote it.

imagine.jpg - Imagine a Western curator seeing a photo of this banner _a.

foreigner.jpg - To a Westerner like me, this banner looks exactly like all the other ones.

emailadress.jpg - I asked someone to translate this text into Chinese - can you tell me if you are able to understand it? Email me at: rrr2lo@gmail.com

hello.jpg - Hello I am a Western artist and I just wanted to let you know that I'm quite fascinated by all the banners (that I cannot read).

multiplex.jpg - I always wondered if these banners are propaganda or poetry or advertisements or announcements? So I thought I just give it a try as well. www.was-ist-multiplex.info

drachen.jpg - I heard that Chinese is a very metaphoric and symbolic language, and then I saw red dragons in a grey sea.