One Step Forward, Two Steps Back - Us and Institution, Us as Institution


Venue: Guangdong Times Museum 

Organized by: Guangdong Times Museum

Special Thanks to: Times Property

Exhibitions Info:

Participating Artists: Art Workers Coalition, Felice Beato, Black December Movement, Cao Chongen, Duan Jianyu, Ho Tzu Nyen, Khaled Hourani, Huang Yongping, Chitti Kasemkitvatana, Lee Wen, Magicien de la Terre, Wong Hoy Cheong, Mladen Stilinovic, Vandy Rattana, New Art Movement, Gulf Labor, Pratchaya Phinthong, Redza Piyadasa, Judy Freya Sibayan, Tang Dawu, Anton Vidokle and Pelin Tan, Wang Xingwei, Xiamen Dada, Yu Youhan

Curated by Biljana Ciric

Exhibition researcher: Amara Antilla

Opening: June 29th 2013 16:00

Exhibition Period: June 30th - August 11th 2013 (Free entry, closed on Mondays except for Holidays)

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back — Us and Institution, Us as Institution takes the artist-institution relationship as a point of departure and explores artists’ commitment to questioning given values within the art system and a larger social context. It looks at the complexities of institutional critique through individual works, specific movements, and collectives from various social moments and localities, and the artists’ positions to act or not to act as agents of critique. The framework of the exhibition underlines a larger global critique network connected with the complex pan-Asia politics, where artists act out and respond to social-political movements in different periods.

During the second half of 20th century, Institutional Critique occurred in parallel to the development of art system. Individual artists opened up new possibilities of exploring institutional models and approaches where modernity was employed and re-defined. The term implied the so called “internationalization process” that started during the early 1990’s in many places, and signaled new protocols that we still share today. With the goal of establishing an expanded definition of Institutional Critique, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back — Us and Institution, Us as Institution reaches out for a diverse history of dissent against power—a shifting target. In localities where art institutional infrastructure didn’t exist, the state was taken as the symbol of institution and exposed to critique; on the other hand, in situations that institutional infrastructure started with the construct of nation states, nationalism represented a strong critique against the overwhelming process of internationalization. Hence, the exhibition positions artists as agents that linger between power and powerlessness.

The sections of this exhibition reveal the range of positions that the artist takes in relation to the institution and highlights transitions that provide new definitions for institutions in specific periods. These include the relationship between the artist and the state, the art institution and the artist, the internationalization of contemporary art, and the self-institutionalization that is common today. By proposing a negotiable context that we all share and partake in, it investigates what an institution is and how we institute by challenging the understanding of an institution as merely a museum or a gallery. In search of shifting methods of exhibition display and narrative, the exhibition symbolically opens up each section with works by Mladen Stilinovic. Stilinovic’s practice from the mid-1970s mirrors the processes that former Yugoslavia went through over the last three decades, and continues to inspire us to examine power structures, institutional protocols, and the role of the market and capitalism in art. It represents the artist’s vigilance and how these transitional processes have influenced our practice. Stilinovic’s solo presentation within the group exhibition format represents the common concerns of the art system today and acknowledges active withdrawal as artistic action against celebrated mass production and the symbolic process of progress.

Exhibition and seminar are supported by: French Consulate in Guangzhou, Department for Culture and Education (DCAE) of the General Consulate of the Federal Republic of Germany in Shanghai, Consulate-General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, National Art Council Singapore.

We would like to thanks following individuals and institutions for their support of exhibition: Branka Stipančić, Jean-Hubert Martin, Pakhruddin & Fatimah Sulaiman, Segolene Dubernet, GB Agency (Paris), David Teh, Khim Ong, Koh Nguang How, Yap Saubin,Rogue Art (Kuala Lumpur), Roslisham Ismail aka Ise, Claus Heimas, Jiao Yaoming, Lin Jiahua, Frazer P. Dougherty, Center for the Study of Political Graphics (Los Angeles), Primary Information (New York), The J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles), Centre national d'art et de culture Georges Pompidou, Fx Harsono, Queensland Art Gallery, Eslite Gallery, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

Learn & Experience activities during the exhibition period:

Artist Workshop

Do Needlework at Times Museum—Art Workshop with Lee Wen

Time: 15:00-17:00 June 22nd and 23rd 2013

Venue: 19F, Main Exhibition Hall, Guangdong Times Museum


Write a Letter to Art

Time: June 29th -August 10th 2013

Venue: 1F, Multifunction Hall, Guangdong Times Museum


Artists Talk Series

June 30th 2013

Active Withdrawal –Individual practice


13:00 to 13: 45 Yu Youhan talk

13:45 to 14:30 Discussion between Duan Jianyu, Wang Xingwei and Yu Youhan

New Models of Organization

14:30 – 15:30 Chitti Kasemkitvatana

15:45 -16:45 Khaled Hourani

17:00-18:00 Lee Wen

18:17-18:45 Round Table Discussion


Guided Tour

15:00-15:30 Every Sat. & Sun., July 6 to August 11, 2013


Art Reading Room

10:00-18:00 Every Sat. & Sun., July 6 to August 11, 2013

The Art Reading Room is a new platform of Times Museum, located in the mezzanine of the exhibition hall on the 19th floor. With opening of exhibition One Step Forward Two Steps Back- Us and Institution, Us as Institution reading room will open to the public, free of charge, according to the above mentioned hours.

During exhibition period reading room will present special display donated by participating artists including publications, independent magazines, catalogs providing further reading of individual artist practice and exhibition.

The Art Reading Room will have special corner presenting artists initiated journals including Messy Sky, PDF, CTRL+P Journal of Contemporary Art among others.

The Art Reading Room would like to thank following artists for their publication donation: Mladen Stilinovic, Chitti Kasemkitvatana, Judy Freya Sibayan, Khaled Hourani, Lee Wen, Jiao Yaoming, Lin Jiahua, Biljana Ciric, PDF Journal among others.


Seminar presented by Guangdong Times Museum on the occasion of One Step Forward, Two Steps Back – Us and Institution, Us as Institution:

Institutional Critique-Curatorial Models, Artistic Practice and Theoretical Explorations

July 27th and 28th 2013

Co-organized by Biljana Ciric and Nikita Yingqian Cai

On the occasion of One Step Forward, Two Steps Back — Us and Institution, Us as Institution curated by Biljana Ciric, Guangdong Times Museum is proud to present the seminar that provides critical reflection on artistic, curatorial and theoretical practices that could be framed under the concept of Institutional Critique.

In the context of China, artist initiatives with critical orientation towards institutions emerged in the early 1980’s contingently and were interrupted in the following decade. Due to the lack of infrastructure and fragmented history, they were not recognized as distinct approaches of Institutional Critique as such. This seminar seeks to establish an expanded definition of Institutional Critique connecting it to a diverse history of dissent, and underscores the relations within the larger context of global institutional critique initiatives. As an historic movement, the legacy and transmitted forms of institutional critique reflects the common concerns of the art system that are not only related to certain localities but are issues that we all, as practitioners, share today.

As an expanded inquiry of last year's three-day long seminar No Ground Underneath; Curating On the Nexus of Changes, presenting this seminar in the very exhibition One Step Forward, Two Steps Back– Us and Institution, Us as Institution, represents a self-reflexive gesture of Guangdong Times Museum as a young and committed art institution in China, where different relations between artists and institutions could be explored and manifested.

Seminar speakers: Ellen Blumenstein, Camiel van Winkel, Natasa Petresin- Bachelez, Ho Tzu Nyen, Wong Hoy Cheong among others.