Chippendale’s White Rabbit Gallery has unveiled its second collection for 2013, Serve the People. The gallery’s biannual program traces the explosion of artistic creativity in China since 1989 – particularly in the last decade – and has seen White Rabbit’s collection become one of the largest in the world dedicated to Chinese contemporary art. Serve the People is a socialist slogan from China’s 1966–1976 Cultural Revolution – a saying heralding the great cause of socialism during a Maoist period in which free artistic output was entirely restricted.

Serve the People curator Edmund Capon (former director and chief curator at the Art Gallery of NSW) has reappropriated the slogan in this instance and the exhibition is representative of a new cultural revolution – an opening up of artistic expression, where artists are now seen to be serving the people of China and the rest of the world in a very different sense.

Capon has divided three of the gallery’s four storeys into themes of fear, anarchy and hope, prevailing elements from within Chinese society over the past 25 years. At the entrance, Wang Zhiyuan’s Objects of Desire is arguably the most eye-catching – towering pink fibreglass underwear complete with flashing lights, song and green neon, which reads: ‘Diamonds matter most’. Similarly spectacular is Wu Yuren’s A Sentence – brightly coloured LED light boxes in Zapf Dingbats symbol font. Each level becomes steadily more sombre as you ascend: Shi Jinsong’s spiked steel stroller, Baby Stroller – Sickle Edition, is somewhat harrowing, but Sun Furong’s scissor-hacked Mao suits in Nibbling Up – Tomb Figures and Shen Shaomin’s reconstituted skeleton in Laboratory – Three Headed, Six Armed Super Human, are not for the faint of heart.

Equally shocking and charming, Serve the People is another remarkable survey of some of China’s most singular and fascinating contemporary artists.

Serve the People will show at White Rabbit Gallery until February 2, 2014.

Thurs to Sun 10am–6pm

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