Making an entrance: contemporary art at the British Ambassador’s Residence, Beijing
First impressions count. British contemporary art at the Residence starts conversations and illuminates connections, a role that Dame Barbara Woodward, the current British Ambassador in Beijing recognises:
Rock - Paper - Scissors by British artist, Ceal Floyer
How many visitors stepping into the British Ambassador’s Residence in Beijing would guess that ‘rock paper scissors’ originated in China? Played by children and adults around the world, this universal game is based on a hierarchy in which two people try to outwit each other by demonstrating the more ‘powerful’ hand sign over the other, representing a rock, paper or a pair of scissors.
This well-known game is the focus of Rock – Paper – Scissors by British artist, Ceal Floyer. Made in 2013, this work presents each object separately as a line of photographs. Working across film, installation and sculpture, Floyer often presents everyday objects in a new light, playfully inviting us to rethink ways that sight, reality and language can slip and slide around.
Ceal Floyer, Rock-Paper-Scissors 2013 / © DACS 2016
Challenging us to look at something from a different perspective is also a subtle but powerful role that Government Art Collection artworks play in the Residence. Floyer’s piece is one of three contemporary works that visitors encounter as soon as they walk into the entrance hall. Strategically placed, these very different works make a vivid first impression, while amplifying the business of diplomatic dialogue that happens inside the building.