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First US museum exhibition of the work of Polit-Sheer-Form-Office opens at the Queens Museum
Polit-Sheer-Form Office, Polit-Sheer-Form-16, Oil on canvas, 200 x 300 cm, 2007. Courtesy of MABSOCIETY.

QUEENS, NY.- The Queens Museum presents Polit-Sheer-Form!, the first US museum exhibition of the work of Polit-Sheer-Form-Office (PSFO). PSFO is a China-based art group established in 2005 by artists Song Dong, Hong Hao, Xiao Yu, Liu Jianhua and curator/critic Leng Lin. Born in the mid-1960s, as children PSFO’s members all experienced the late Cultural Revolution, a period of Communist ideological orthodoxy that powerfully affected the preceding generation. Drawing on this personal history, PSFO’s artistic practice strives to create a collective way of life while removing the political content historically associated with it. In its activities and artworks, PSFO attempts to create a framework—albeit tongue-in-cheek—for collective life in today’s consumer-oriented China. Within this framework, individuals may find the ties that bind them to others. At the same time, “sheer form” without content allows room for the individual to grow.

“By eating, drinking and playing together, the PSFO members revive a collective way of life associated with the Communist era of their youth, reawakening a long-lost state of being, by which they contend with contemporary China’s ideology of consumerism. But this is not nostalgia for one of the most controversial periods of Chinese history. The very emptiness of the political rhetoric of their childhood is what inspires the group’s name. Instead of political content, we have sheer, unadulterated political form—hence “Polit-Sheer-Form-Office.” The fact that the group calls itself an “Office” is another ironic reference to officialdom.

With elements installed throughout the Museum’s first floor spaces and west faade, Polit-Sheer-Form! is both a survey of works created by PSFO during its nine years of existence, and also a single project that integrates the individual artworks with the site. The Queens Museum spaces are given an architectural form evocative of the Socialist era meant to bring viewers directly into the collectivist imagination. Among the works on view, Library and Fitness for All especially invite the audience to experience the joy of being together, and the performance piece Do the Same Good Deed, taking place at lunch hour on Monday, November 3 in Times Square, a special commission with Times Square Arts for this exhibition, is also the first time the group has reached out to engage masses of people in its personal, collective ways. (The same artwork was organized by the Guangdong Times Museum and performed in Guangzhou, China on June 9, 2014.) Cultural diversity is a hallmark of Queens and the affirmation of individualism is a cultural symbol of the United States. Polit-Sheer-Form-Office hopes to make their voice heard in this center of diversity and consumerist culture, and, based on their life experiences, speak out about how the “we” can exist amidst “me.”

Polit-Sheer-Form-Office (PSFO) is a China-based art collective founded in 2005 by artists Hong Hao (b. 1965, Beijing), Xiao Yu (b. 1965, Inner Mongolia), Song Dong (b. 1966, Beijing), Liu Jianhua (b. 1962, Ji’an), and Leng Lin (b. 1965, Beijing). Each PSFO member has a significant and successful solo artistic career, and PSFO represents an opportunity for them to experiment with another way of making art over an extended period of time. PSFO is a highly adaptable organism: when they come together, they adjust their roles, fitting into the collective through their greatest strengths to become units in a greater whole—as the propaganda of their childhood might have encouraged them to do. According to them, members enjoy absolute equality and are willing to set aside the self as the condition for fusion onto the collective. On a foundation of deep understanding and trust, the roles and responsibilities of the group’s members can change to fit the situation. The collective derives its creativity from this equality and adaptability.

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