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15 February – 19 April 2015
OPENING 14 February 2015 @ 19:00

On the Occasion of the 5th Birthday of LEAP Magazine

Online & Print Exhibition

Curated by Cao Dan and Li Zhenhua

Web-site for the Online Exhibition


Aaajiao • Addie Wagenknecht • Bi Rongrong • Chen Dongfan • Chen Xiao
Cheng Ran • Danh Vo • David Siepert + Stefan Baltensperger • Feng Bingyi
Frank Tang • Hu Weiyi • Iris Long + Cedar Zhou • Jiang Jun
9mouth • Liao Wenfeng • Liu Guoqiang • Quynh Dong • Shi Yijie
Shi Yong • Song Ta • Tan Tian • Wu Juehui • Xu Qu • Yang Junling • Yuan Keru

Assistant curator: He Jing
Exhibition coordinator: Hong Yali
Graphic design: Li Mei



Artists and Works
(click on the icons below to read the full information about each work)



Originally existing as an exhibition in print and online curated by Cao Dan and Li Zhenhua for LEAP – the art magazine for contemporary China, MOMENTUM now brings ‘Creating the Future: Thinking about the Unthinkable’ to Berlin in real time and three-dimensional space, to literally LEAP off the page, off the screen, and into our gallery space.

After an enduring focus on so-called ‘Net Art’ since the mid-90s, which saw artists challenging the necessity or relevance of physical exhibition spaces, in recent years the term ‘post-internet art’ has come to dominate art discourse. Widely misunderstood, this term does not imply that we have in any way moved beyond net-based technologies – the main ground for the strong resistance to this term. Like ‘post-modernism’, and with a similarly counterintuitive and misleading choice of terminology, the ‘post’ in ‘post-internet art’ refers to a revisiting or reworking of the methods derived from internet art, rather than a break from it.

Whereas Net Art dealt directly with new digital strategies and mainly existed on the web itself, post-internet art applies these methods into a much wider range of fields, often to create physical objects in the real world.

This exhibition can be positioned as a curatorial exploration of this tendency or need to create crossovers between the on and the offline. Integrating the printed and digital versions of the exhibition within the now physicalized exhibition itself, it presents one and the same selection of works in the three main forms by which the public comes into contact with art today; a mise en abyme of exhibition-media with a gallery show of a virtual exhibition. Within the curators’ aim to create “a microcosm of the relationship between art and media”, at MOMENTUM the exhibition allows for an in-depth consideration of how pre-internet, net, and post-internet media may affect this relationship. It is a threefold exhibition – a series of déjà vu’s in the real, the reproduced and the virtual.

— Isabel de Sena

An Exhibition Online and On Paper

Cao Dan

“Thinking about the Unthinkable,” comes from a work of the same name published in the 1960s by preeminent American futurist and Hudson Institute founder Herman Kahn. Kahn’s text analyzes and imagines the possible aftermath of nuclear war, directly dealing with various specific crises and circumstances with which mankind might be faced, all while maintaining a typically optimistic futurist faith in the possibility of this future human society to find a path to survival. Over fifty years later, we are in the midst of Kahn’s “future”: on one hand, improvements in democracy and science have brought mankind unparalleled safety and well-being, with continued progress in our control of the outside world giving a sense of exponentially increasing prosperity; on the other hand, the dangers of nuclear war, limited resources, climate change, pollution, and health epidemics are omnipresent, with anxiety about the future affecting our conceptions of identity, faith, and ethics, as well as other more subtle and intrinsic notions. How should we think about the future? Can the immediate or distant future really be thought of? Can our thinking affect the future? … Questions like these laid the basis for the subject of this exhibition, “Creating for the Future: Thinking about the Unthinkable”.

This exhibition has specifically enlisted renowned curator, Li Zhenhua to help LEAP and LEAP LABS to organize both the online and print exhibitions. The theme of this years exhibition is “Creating for the Future: Thinking about the Unthinkable.” For this year’s special edition, we have invited 25 young artists to use their own idea of an “image” to create a “Letter for the Future.” These images may end up being a composition of frames of memories made in order to connect to an unknown world; they may implore conceptual methods to create a realistic narrative; they might even delve into the realm of the not yet existent in order to explore the boundaries of reality and imagination… The lives and creations made by artists of this new generation are intertwined with the multitude of images that barrage them daily from all corners of the earth. It is both the most natural and most comfortable way through which these artists can express themselves.


Li Zhenhua

From print media to the content and development of apps, art has been pushed forward by the transmission of information, and while small, this event exists as a microcosm of the relationship between art and the media. Perhaps not even Mcluhan or Neil Postman could predict our current reality: today’s media now extends beyond what is real and has delved into a manifestation of self-obsession. But, then again, maybe this is a reality they predicted at one time. If we are to say that the transmission of information is what brought about the current state of the world –and with it modern civilization— then isn’t it too hollow to say that the only thing the so-called second and third revolutions brought about is the vague concept of the “information age”?

Revolution often comes quietly, but it’s not because nobody is paying attention. Instead, it’s because we as people naturally accept a certain reality, one that accepts the creation of change. The information age began similarly without a sound. Just like the upgrade from a 286 to 386 computer, the pursuit of increased efficiency has caused us to crave new technology.

Besides adapting to the times around it, art creates its own spirit within an era. At the same time, art –as a force that existed before this time, and which will continue to exist after— brings with it both skepticism towards the present and worries about the future. This self-conflicting reality is one which artists have been unable to untangle, even as art begins to blur the boundaries between it and other disciplines –boundaries that it gets close to, but never crosses.

All the artists invited to “Creating for the Future” exist within this specific reality and are trying to find a way to respond to its current situation, or the situation of the future it will create.

Artists and their works are diverse in the way in which they are able to give us opportunities to think at exactly the right moment. To make us think: how will the future unfold? At the same time, art can also remove itself from these constructs, as if it were passing through the universe overcoming any sense of time or space. Art transforms media into becoming a reflection or observation. Through changing existing relationships and fostering new ones, art can create new connections that push our imaginations forward with an inertia that only comes when one has expectations for the future. When that scale tips, it’s like starting a landslide.

I once planed a “future media” issue for Vision Magazine, in which I hoped to discuss the role of print media. With this current project, however, I hope to be able to derive more specific creative methods from the artists themselves, and look to better understand how to best link print media and multi-media software. Inevitably, artists must be the ones to complete this practice. However, Cheng Ran’s scripts, Hu Weiyi’s imprints, Xu Wenkai’s fictitious landscapes, and Quynh Dong’s poetry and spaces did not respond to the essence of “Thinking the Unthinkable.” Instead, they focus specifically on working towards a future that is on the verge of occurring. These artists get very close to approaching reality through directly linking the future to the present and therefore bring the subjects of their work into every aspect of their lives. That is not the point of this project. Unfortunately, herein lies the paradox of “Thinking the Unthinkable”: in order to ascertain the future, perhaps hope must come in the form of an escape from reality. The protagonists of most stories do not make it to the future. When their moment comes to approach it, they look back to the earliest ancestors of humanity or moments from times past, yet towards the future their thoughts are nothing more than emptiness.


(photos by Marina Belikova)

(photos by Marina Belikova)