28 Sep 2016

He An: Do You Think That You Can Help Her Brother?

Do You Think That You Can Help Her Brother?, 2008-09, installation view, courtesy Leo Xu Projects, Shanghai.

Presented in partnership with Asia TOPA
11 February – 23 April, 2017

Chinese characters gleaned from shopfronts and various sites throughout the city of Beijing, tell a dark story about love, desire and power in He An’s neon light installation, Do You Think You Can Help Her Brother?, which will be presented on the northern façade of ACCA’s iconic architecture as a keynote public project for Asia TOPA.

Drawn from popular news stories and online social media, Do You Think That You Can Help Her Brother? combines found texts to create a narrative poem that relays the experience of marginalized labour workers, popular Chinese novels, the sex industry and criminal underground networks in Chinese society.

The work is made up of several large and colourful neon Chinese characters. Each has been ‘found’, and while stylistically unique, together they create a poem that makes visible the risk to women in these male-dominated networks.

“He An has a long interest in language, literature and the urban environment.  One of a number of light works he has made in the last fifteen years, Do You Think That You Can Help Her Brother? is a transgressive and poetic work referencing the shifting changes in style of the neon signage that punctuates Beijing’s cityscape and the impact of social media on relaying stories and shaping behaviour,” says curator Hannah Mathews

‘Inspired by the city lights and tenebrous urban narratives of Beijing, He An’s breathtaking installation creates a form of urban poetry from retrieved heritage signage which is swiftly disappearing from the skyline due to the rapid transformation of Beijing’s urban environment’, says ACCA’s Artistic Director and CEO Max Delany.

Born in 1971 in Wuhan, Hubei, China, He An lives and works in Beijing and is part of an emerging generation of artists born after China’s Cultural Revolution who are making work in the midst of an enormous industrial expansion and urban transformation. His work largely deals with the physical and psychological atmosphere of China’s growing cities, especially the signs, lights and language that populate the built environment. In 2000, He An started incorporating neon light-box characters—gathered from the ubiquitous signage of fast-growing cities like Shenzhen and Wuhan—into his art. His work was featured in the Shanghai Biennale (2006) and is held in the collection of the White Rabbit Gallery, Sydney. He An is represented by Leo Xu Projects (Shanghai), Pace (Beijing) and Galerie Daniel Templon (Paris and Brussels).

Asia TOPA is a landmark festival-style celebration of Asian-focused performance and culture launching in Melbourne in January 2017. Created to celebrate the incredible richness and diversity of Asian performing arts and culture, Asia TOPA is presented by a consortium of Melbourne’s leading arts organisations and community of thought leaders and culture makers from the Asia-Pacific region.

Presented in partnership with Asia TOPA
He An: Do You Think That You Can Help Her Brother?   11 February – 23 April, 2017

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art
111 Sturt Street, Southbank VIC 3006, Australia
10am – 5pm Tuesday to Friday; 11am – 5pm weekends and public holidays, Monday by appointment.
Tel: 03 9697 9999.  Admission: Free

Asia TOPA is a joint initiative of the Sidney Myer Fund and Arts Centre Melbourne and is supported by the Australian and Victorian Governments.

ACCA gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the City of Melbourne, the Sidney Myer Fund and Arts Centre Melbourne for this project.

ACCA is supported by the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian, State and Territory Governments.