Chinese for Beginners

Watercolors on Mao Benzhi paper, 21,59 x 35,56 cm, 2010-2012

These series of 300 drawings are made on traditional Chinese calligraphy paper. The works attempts an intuitive approach to language.
Three years ago, Gala Berger met Lin-Yi Hsuan, artist who had just moved to Argentina. The drawings that Berg- er developed afterwards would become the series Chino para principiantes [Chinese for Beginners], a jokingly self-imposed bet, a ridiculous quest to learn Chinese. The drawings—as much as 300 of them—are playful and abstract yet also tell a story of migration, translation, diplomatic issues and language. The 88 works that make up this exhibition are part of a larger bid at grasping the Chinese language—so visual, poetic, conceptual—through her own art. With Mao Bianzhi paper, a tool used at Chinese schools to teach traditional calligraphy, Berger at- tempts an intuitive approach to language. Gala Berger paints, but not in the sense that a lot of Argentine artists do, often reflecting on the country’s own art history or referring to painting itself. She uses it as a way to interact with other cultures, nature itself, or as a means to experiment with economies or disregard the conventions of business in art. Her artistic projects take as much from the immaterial world of the Internet as from the materials she chooses to use. This results in a sort of open source process and value system in which she gives as much as she takes, always giving credit and modifying ideas for the local context. Underscoring this attitude is the fact that Berger seldom works alone. While it’s true that, as an artist, she still maintains a studio, her projects and exhibitions are not for mere contemplation. Berger’s artistic practice is expansive, taking on the form of various ventures, both as an artist and organizer, often blurring the lines between one and the other. Following a 2009 residency in the Korean city of Anyang-si, Berger became involved with Munguau, a cultural exchange project between South Korea and Argentina, both as co-director and curator. Through a wide range of activities, from parties to workshops and art exhibitions both in Argentina and abroad, Munguau seeks to expand the involve- ment and awareness of the Korean community in Argentina, which has been growing since the 1960s. Beyond the successive displacements of Koreans to Argentina, the project focuses on the latest generation of Argentine- Koreans, arising from an interest in cultural exchange, not only between Argentina and the Korean peninsula, but with members of the Korean community in Buenos Aires. Born out of the sheer will of a group of people, this project provides a much needed active cultural dialogue between these two countries, often bypassing the obsolete diplomatic institutions.

Extracted from the exhibition text by Marina Reyes Franco


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