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Chinese artist's view of African art theme of Beijing display

By Deng Zhangyu | China Daily | Updated: 2018-09-18 07:23
Screen shots from artist Musquiqui Chihying's short video The Sculpture, which is on display at his Beijing show featuring videos, photos and installations on Sino-African ties. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Two years ago when Musquiqui Chihying went to Togo he was surprised to find that the first museum of African art he visited in the country was established by a Chinese collector, which evoked the visual artist's interest in Sino-African history.

The Taiwan native, who's family name is Peng but doesn't use it in public, gives himself the name Musquiqui Chihying. Living both in Taipei and Berlin, he is presenting his take on the subject with an exhibition in Beijing.

The ongoing show that began on Aug 25, displays videos, photos and installations.

From Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) explorer Zheng He's voyage to what now is Kenya to China's late premier Zhou Enlai's diplomatic visits to 10 African states in the 1960s and a Chinese collector's donation of African sculptures to the National Museum of China in the 2000s, Chihying has also tried to show Sino-African exchanges through short videos made with documentary techniques.

"Some stories in my works are not real but imagined, based on facts," Chihying, 35, says.

In his 15-minute video, The Guestbook, the artist films his Togolese friend visiting three locations in Berlin with past associations-one of which is a massage parlor, which used to be the site of an early Chinese restaurant near which Zhou had stayed during a visit to the German city in 1923. Chihying "made up" a story about Zhou often eating at the restaurant for the video.

In his installation, Culture Center, he has reimagined a set of coins that celebrates Sino-African ties, which was inspired by his visit to some museums and theaters built by Chinese companies.

"Chinese companies not only help build roads in Africa, they also help build cultural institutions," he says.

Chihying has made an artwork inspired by five buildings related to culture that were built in Africa by Chinese companies, including theaters and museums, he says. On a side of this artwork he has drawn five animals considered auspicious in Chinese mythology, such as the turtle and the carp.

His other two artworks, The Mask and The Sculpture, draw inspiration from Chinese collector Xie Yanshen's private museum in Togo's capital Lome that shows African art collected from across the continent. From 2007 to 2011, Xie donated about 5,000 pieces of African wooden sculptures to the National Museum of China.

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