One Hand Clapping

Wong Ping, Dear, can I give you a hand?, 2018 (detail). Animated LED color video installation, with sound, dimensions variable. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Collection 2018.18 © Wong Ping

Ecco la terza tappa del progetto realizzato con The Robert HN Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative, dal titolo "One Hand Clapping" che si svolgerà al Guggenheim di New York dal 4 Maggio al 21 Ottobre con le recenti opere di Cao Fei, Duan Jianyu, Lin Yilin, Wong Ping e Samson Young.

Lin Yilin - Digital rendering of Monad, 2017 - Multimedia presentation proposed for the third exhibition of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, May 4–October 21, 2018  © Lin Yilin


The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum presents One Hand Clapping, a group exhibition of newly commissioned works by Cao Fei, Duan Jianyu, Lin Yilin, Wong Ping, and Samson Young. The exhibition is the third of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative, a research, curatorial, and collections-building program begun in 2013. On view from May 4 through October 21, 2018, One Hand Clapping will be accompanied by a catalogue and public and educational programming.

The artists in One Hand Clapping explore our changing relationship with the future. Produced in both new and traditional mediums—from virtual reality technology to oil on canvas—their commissioned works challenge visions of a global, homogeneous, and technocratic future. On Tower Level 5, Wong Ping creates a multimedia installation centered on a colorful, racy animated tale that explores the tension between an aging population and the relentless pace of a digital economy; in her paintings and sculptures, Duan Jianyu depicts a surreal, transitory place where the rural meets the urban; and Lin Yilin constructs a virtual-reality simulation featuring a professional basketball star, testing the potential for using technology to inhabit the experience of another. On Tower Level 7, Cao Fei examines the new realities and potential crisis driven by automation and robotics at some of China’s most advanced storage and distribution facilities, and Samson Young reflects on our obsession with ritual and authenticity through a sonic and sculptural environment of imaginary musical instruments and their digitally engineered sounds.

The exhibition title One Hand Clapping is derived from a koan—riddles used in Zen Buddhist practice to challenge logical reasoning—that asks, “We know the sound of two hands clapping. But what is the sound of one hand clapping?” Emerging from a tradition that originates in China’s Tang period (618–907), the phrase “one hand clapping” encompasses a history of cross-cultural translation and appropriation that continues into the present, from its citation as the epigraph to J. D. Salinger’s Nine Stories (1953) to its referencing in the titles of a Cantopop song and an Australian film and the name of a British band. In this light, “one hand clapping” becomes a metaphor for the processes by which meaning is fabricated, transmitted, and restated in a globalized world. The image of “one hand clapping” also suggests connotations of solitude and the ability of artists to put forth a singular perspective and to challenge prevailing beliefs, stereotypes, and conventional power structures.

One Hand Clapping is organized by Xiaoyu Weng, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Associate Curator of Chinese Art, and Hou Hanru, Consulting Curator, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative. Kyung An, Assistant Curator, Asian Art, provides curatorial support. The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative is part of the Guggenheim’s Asian Art Initiative, directed by Alexandra Munroe, Samsung Senior Curator, Asian Art, and Senior Advisor, Global Arts.

“The work of the artists in this third iteration of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative epitomizes the fresh artistic energy coming out of Greater China and fosters deeper perspectives on the art of our time,” said Richard Armstrong, Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation. “We are deeply grateful to Robert H. N. Ho, Founder, and Robert Y. C. Ho, Chairman, for their vision in advancing this ambitious venture and their enthusiasm and dedication to furthering the scholarship, innovation, and accessibility of the art and culture of Greater China.”

“The Chinese Art Initiative seeks to support the Guggenheim’s vision for contemporary art, which reaches beyond the confines of geographical and cultural boundaries. It engages Chinese artists and their creativity in diverse contexts, acknowledging the complexity of contemporary art practice as a global phenomenon,” said Robert Y. C. Ho, Chairman, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation. “The Guggenheim has built upon its expertise to integrate the voices of the Chinese artists into multiple discourses. Through the creative endeavors of both the artists and the museum, we encourage meaningful interactions with various art perspectives as well as deeper thinking about the intrinsic value of art in today’s globalized world.”

“Through The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative, we have sought to challenge, deconstruct, and redefine ideas of ‘contemporary Chinese art’ and to present some of the most thoughtful and provocative artworks being made today,” said Xiaoyu Weng. “For this concluding phase of the initiative, we invited these five artists to think with us about how art that imagines the future also reflects our understanding of the present and the past. Shaped by the artists’ bold imaginations, sharp social critique, and humor, their newly created works encourage and inspire possibilities for a future art to come.”

The bilingual catalogue for One Hand Clapping features essays by coeditors Xiaoyu Weng and Hou Hanru about the scope of the exhibition and the genesis of its thematic commissions. Serving as an active component in the realization of the project, the catalogue assembles a diverse range of voices and visual elements, including sections presenting writings and images related to the creative process for each of the participating artists, a theoretical text on technology and culture by philosopher Yuk Hui; and selected poems by Wu Qing, Zhang Xiu, and the worker-poet Xu Lizhi (1990–2014), who was employed at the Foxconn factory in Shenzhen where products for major international brands such as Apple™and Sony™ are assembled. Additionally, a new cycle of poems was commissioned from Hong Kong–based poet Nicolas Wong, who imagines a Hong Kong of 2052 where Cantonese is banned but bilingual poets collaborate with AI translation programs to defy authority.

A series of public and educational programs will be presented in conjunction with One Hand Clapping. Keep up to date about programs by visiting

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Lecture
Saturday, May 5, 4:00 pm
During the opening weekend of One Hand Clapping, the Guggenheim hosts the third Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Lecture. Exhibition cocurators Xiaoyu Weng and Hou Hanru deliver short talks contextualizing the exhibition and Chinese Art Initiative, then moderate a group conversation with exhibition artists Duan Jianyu, Cao Fei, Samson Young, Wong Ping, and Lin Yilin. The lecture is followed by an exhibition viewing. For tickets, visit

Launched in 2013, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative at the Guggenheim supports a curatorial residency, three exhibitions and publications, and commission-based acquisitions. By commissioning new works by artists born in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau (Greater China), the program offers a platform for artistic experimentation that responds to and reflects urgent issues of our time. The most recent presentation, Tales of Our Time (2016–17), was a group exhibition of nine new works by five artists, an artist duo, and an artist collective. The exhibition explored and challenged the notion of place against the backdrop of increasing tension between the global and local. It included a robot-operated installation of monumental scale, a public tea gathering in an indoor garden-like setting, immersive video works, and more. The first exhibition, Wang Jianwei: Time Temple (2014–15), featured a sculptural installation, paintings, a film, and a performance by Wang Jianwei, one of China’s leading conceptual artists. Works created through the initiative will form The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Collection at the Guggenheim.

Established in Hong Kong in 2005 by Robert Hung Ngai Ho as a private philanthropic organization, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation works to foster appreciation of Chinese arts and culture to advance global learning; and to cultivate a deeper understanding of Buddhism in the context of contemporary life. The Foundation supports efforts that make Chinese arts approachable and relevant to audiences worldwide. It also supports the creation of new works, exhibitions, and publications that offer original perspectives and improve the quality and accessibility of scholarship on Chinese art.

Founded in 1937, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of art, primarily of the modern and contemporary periods, through exhibitions, education programs, research initiatives, and publications. The Guggenheim network that began in the 1970s when the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, was joined by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, has since expanded to include the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (opened 1997), and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (currently in development). The Guggenheim Foundation continues to forge international collaborations that celebrate contemporary art, architecture, and design within and beyond the walls of the museum, including the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative and The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative. More information about the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation can be found at