Following Witte de With’s exhibition Dai Hanzhi: 5000 Artists, this record traces the recent history of noise and sound art in China. Dai Hanzhi: 5000 Artists told the story of Dutchman Hans van Dijk, whose Chinese name was Dai Hanzhi, and his seminal role in Chinese contemporary art. Van Dijk not only worked as a curator and gallerist, but also compiled a staggering archive containing over 5000 artists entries, documenting modern and contemporary artists working between 1880 and 1980.
However, as Yan Jun writes in his essay, Van Dijk’s archive does not include any sound artists. As the world is full of unknown, untold and unwritten stories, Yan Jun with this edition adds another small part to the history of the arts in China.
The essay Noise as new Politics fits very well with the aims of DE PLAYER and its series Department of Public Sound, which focuses on sound, language through both social and technical aspects. The angle on which Yan Yun approaches the matter of noise is an interesting and poetic one. It does not literally focus on the obvious noise scene as a cliché or illustration but determines the idea of noise into a variety of essential parts of life such as communication, rituals, meaning and shows us the development of powers, society and their cultural impact. It tries to grasp but not pinpoint, and therefore offers us tools to reflect. The fact that poetry is the new politics lies at the core of the series, and therefore shows us the importance of creativity in society. In that sense civil disobedience is the spine of evolution, be it on a societal or personal level. Cracking things open can only be achieved when we dare to let confusion be part of our daily life and understanding. The accompanying record offers clear sound examples of this idea.