Considering landscape as a medium, context-specific works by nine artists open up new perspectives and re-examine from various angles the relationships between human and nature, and between self and world.
From December 4, 2021 to June 12, 2022, UCCA Dune presents the group show “The Rearview Landscape, or a Trip of Ownership,” assembling context-specific artworks by nine artists arising from their own personal research and practice, based on the representation of landscapes. The works channel the sceneries observed both on journeys and in daily life into a larger-scale investigation of the global order of manufactured landscapes as shaped by nature, economics, culture, and politics. Through the overlapping of these landscapes and the dialogue between them, the artists attempt to reveal hidden inner connections and power games beneath the surface of our world. Participating artists include Vajiko Chachkhiani, Liu Yujia, Aslı Çavuşoğlu, Xiaoshi Vivian Vivian Qin, Shen Xin, Su Yu Hsin, Su Yu-Xin, Wang Wei, and Tant Zhong. This exhibition is curated by UCCA Curator Yan Fang.
Does landscape have an owner? Is it the person who owns the land itself, or the traveler who takes in the sight? As a medium, landscape is colored by mental images both immediate and remote, called up as one comprehends the world. Is the true order of the world hidden within these representations? If we understand a journey as a process of transformation in thought, then is it possible, on a trip in which one’s experience is predetermined, to move forward gradually, poetically and furtively? From the perspective of the nine participating artists in this exhibition, landscape is no longer the environment or scene that carries certain images, behavior, or narrative in the normative sense, but rather, a particular medium that has been programmed and implicated with cultural expression and meaning. In their respective practices, the artists leave behind existing conceptual understanding of landscape and instead, draws attention to the role of “viewing” in image production through the landscape itself or images generated from landscapes. Discussing issues surrounding nature, the economy, history, society, culture, and aesthetics, the artworks interrogate from various angles the question of ownership hidden behind the construction of landscapes.
Examining landscape as a medium, the artists also open up new possibilities in our perception of the relationships between human and nature, and between self and world. How may we observe landscape from a global perspective? How do we think about this world we live in, and we ourselves, who live in it? Peter Sloterdijk’s discourse on globalization may provide us with a macro perspective. As he points out in his In the World Interior of Capital, the earth is a natural, spherical, celestial body, which has been discovered, and then constantly rediscovered, by the human imagination. After the development of modern colonialism and the expansion of European states, the evolution of electronic information technology and the advent of orbital satellites in the postwar era ushered in a new age of globalization, one encircled by media (or even digitized). Today’s tendency towards an integrated world of capital resembles a greenhouse—just like Dostoyevsky’s metaphor of the Crystal Palace—gradually absorbing everything that originally was external into its internal space. It relies on the “stage” and the pleasant illusion of its backdrop. Against this landscape, those within society undergo an integrationist program of discipline, of economization and the standardization of commodity markets, that maintains the strict and efficient operation of capitalist industry. Ultra-high speed globalization has caused people to lose the perception they had in modern times of the vastness of the world, and to despatialize the real earth little by little. In this era of acceleration, the intensified interactions of people driven by desire, wrapped up in ecstasy and excitement, share something in common with the contemporary collective claustrophobia described by Paul Virilio. In fact, Virilio believes, since we have lost the “life-size” space that is a basic necessity for survival, we have become “desolation tourists,” wandering aimlessly for an escape from the overcrowded anxieties of globalization. “Migrants of happiness” flock to tourist sites with beautiful scenery to get away from the interactivity of electronic screens, while “migrants of sadness” flee from these tourist destinations, where they cannot survive.
The disconnection between the different regions of the world, caused by the pandemic, does not mean that the internal connections of this system have disappeared. Bound up in the multiple layers of complex reality in today’s society, can we pass through landscapes—which in our own travels may be easily reduced to mere objects of aesthetic appreciation—and, according them the full vigilance required to all historical, political, and aesthetic levels, move through the “real” to remove the emptiness of consumption brought about by the commodification of memory, arriving at the true possession of subject consciousness? In this exhibition, the nine artists move into the landscape from different perspectives, examining various issues behind natural scenery and images, including labor, migration, habitation, travel, territory, race, and ecology. Shen Xin (b. 1990, Chengdu) uses the backdrop of the environmental changes caused by global warming to discuss the challenges faced by an island transitioning from an agricultural way of life to a tourism-based model, as well as the inequality experienced by individuals in a post-colonial context. Su Yu-Xin (b. 1991, Taiwan) continues her observations on landscape painting technique and geological- archaeological research into color mediums, narrating individual memories in tandem with the course of ethnic integration throughout changing times. By appropriating abandoned buildings, Vajiko Chachkhiani (b. 1985, Tbilisi, Georgia, lives and works in Tbilisi) explores the lives of individuals cast aside by urban society and the psychological mechanisms within the space of their private spheres.Aslı Çavuşoğlu (b. 1982, Istanbul) utilizes natural materials and their physical metaphors to search for a certain “boundary” between land and maritime territory, in addition to drawing comparisons between biotic invasions and reproduction, human population booms, and urban gentrification. Through traditional rituals and folklore, Su Yu Hsin (b. 1989, Taichung, lives and works in Berlin) questions the narrative logic of anthropocentric understandings of nature, going on to ask how landscapes have been historically constructed. Liu Yujia (b. 1981, Sichuan province, lives and works in Beijing) unfolds a narrative about expeditions, travel, and excavation that revolves around historical treasures buried deep underground and jade as a symbol of Eastern culture. Within, she seeks out the enormous changes undergone by both natural landforms and cityscapes, along with slowly vanishing cultural traditions.
Tant Zhong (b. 1990, Wuhan, lives and works in Shanghai) uses sculptural language to outline an expansive image that may collapse at any time, serving as a metaphor for nature—constantly changing and in a state of generation—and the world we live in as a whole. Wang Wei (b. 1972, Beijing, lives and works in Beijing) returns to his previous “Natural History” works, borrowing the form of an irregularly shaped, grass-green platform in the primate habitat at the Shanghai Zoo to expose the multiple relationships between viewers and those being viewed. Xiaoshi Vivian Vivian Qin (b. 1989 Guangzhou, lives and works in Guangzhou and Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province) finds the spirit of the landscape dwelling within an oversized video game console. She exchanges gifts and letters with the landscape itself through the interactive interface of the game, and extends discussion within an oversized video game console. She exchanges gifts and letters with the landscape itself through the interactive interface of the game, and extends discussion within the work to touch upon the topic of doomsday survivalism.
About the Artists
Vajiko Chachkhiani (b. 1985, Tbilisi, Georgia, lives and works in Tbilisi) graduated from Universität der Künste (UdK), Berlin, Germany, in 2013. Vajiko Chachkhiani’s work operates somewhere between the outside world and the human psyche, bringing the shadowy aspects of our Conditio humanato awareness through subtle and intriguing visual poetry. Frequently based on performances or transformative actions, many of his sculptures share an affinity to minimalism while at the same time being charged with narrative meaning. Through his sculptures and installations, he addresses psychological conditions such as loneliness, violence, and angst, interweaving them with topics from religion and politics to literature and poetry. Recurring themes in his work are conflict, culture/ nature, and the oscillation between the outer reality and the inner life of the individual being.
After solo exhibitions at Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen (Siegen, Germany, 2014) and Yarat Contemporary Art Centre (Baku, Azerbaijan, 2016), his work was presented at the Georgian Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017. In recent years his work has been shown internationally, including Bundeskunsthalle Bonn (Bonn, Germany, 2018) and Art Basel Unlimited (Basel, 2019). He completed his residency as a fellow at Villa Aurora in Los Angeles, USA, and participated in the 22nd Biennale of Sydney in 2020.
Liu Yujia (b. 1981, Sichuan province, lives and works in Beijing) graduated from Sichuan Fine Arts Institute and obtained her master’s degree from London College of Communication, University of the Arts London. Liu Yujia’s recent practice engages with moving images. Her video works and films explore the dialectical tension between documentary reality and fiction, examining the complex and mysterious dimensions of subjective experience in different social and political contexts. The artist shoots the “real life” scenes in a documentary way, meanwhile, the intimate and invisible dimension of “real life” could be revealed by her fictional or “fake” figures. Her recent practice reveals the fictional and illusory aspects of social reality, allowing the audience to experience reality as pure fiction.
Recent solo exhibitions include DRC No. 12, Beijing (2021); Tang Contemporary Art Center, Beijing (2016, 2017); Shanghai Gallery of Art, Shanghai (2015). Group exhibitions include the 11th Shanghai Biennale (2016); University Art Gallery- University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Moss Arts Center, Blacksburg, VA, USA; the First Guangzhou Airport Biennale (2019); HOW Art Museum, Shanghai; UCCA Dune, Beidaihe, Hebei province; Julia Stoschek Collection, Düsseldorf, Germany; White Rabbit Museum, Sydney, Australia; Center for Chinese Contemporary Art, Manchester, UK; Kadist, San Francisco; OCAT Shanghai; OCAT Shenzhen; OCAT Beijing; Lianzhou Museum of Photography, Lianzhou, Guangdong province; Yinchuan Museum of Contemporary, Yinchuan, Ningxia province; and Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai. Her video works and films have been screened at Centre Pompidou, Paris and other museums and institutions around the world. She was nominated for the 2018-2019 Porsche “Young Chinese Artist of the Year” Award.
Xiaoshi Vivian Vivian Qin
Xiaoshi Vivian Vivian Qin’s (b. 1989, Guangzhou, lives and works in Guangzhou and Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province) works focus on doomsday prepping and myths of the Pearl River Delta, and debates about the future. She received an MFA in Visual Arts from Columbia University in 2015. Since 2014, she has hosted high school debates at Queens Museum and Jewish Museum in New York, topics encompassing “Will there be contemporary art in 2020,” “Can an AI be an artist,” and more. During her residency at Spring Workshop in 2017, she founded the gossip art magazine Ruthless Lantern, serving as the Director of Communications for Miss Ruthless. Having shown at Taikang Space, Beijing; Para Site, Hong Kong; and Asia Society Hong Kong Center, Hong Kong, her “Doomsday Prepping” series (2017-ongoing) explores strategies of survival and ways of care and support. Collaborating with Hera Chan, she investigates sounds in public spaces, and has received a grant from Guangdong Times Museum for a residency in Havana in 2019. They presented a monument for the future-warning sounds that we neglected the same year at Savvy Contemporary in Berlin. In 2020-2021, her solo exhibition opened in Nansha, Guangzhou. Guided by local pirate treasures, her works are dispersed in natural spaces, wandering in between contemporary news, histories of pirates and naval battles, and mythological tales of dragons. She received the Lotos Foundation Prize in 2015.
Aslı Çavuşoğlu (b. 1982, Istanbul) examines the way in which cultural and historical facts are transformed, represented, and interpreted by individuals. Working across various media, Çavuşoğlu often assumes the role of an interpreter, writer or facilitator in her projects in order to highlight the precarious and subjective nature of our shared histories. Recent solo shows include “Pink as a Cabbage/Green as an Onion/Blue as an Orange” (Kadist, Paris, 2020); “With Just the Push of a Voice” (MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA, USA, 2020); “The Place of Stone” (New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, 2018); “Red/Red” (Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Qatar, 2016); “In Diverse Estimations Little Moscow” (RISD Museum, Providence, RI, USA, 2014); “The Stones Talk” (Arter, Istanbul, 2013); and “Murder in Three Acts” (Delfina Foundation, London, 2013). Group exhibitions and biennials include: Palais de Tokyo (Paris, 2020), Moderna Museet (Stockholm, 2017); Castello di Rivoli (Torino, 2017, 2019); Manifesta 11 (Zurich, 2016); the 14th Istanbul Biennial (2015); New Museum Triennial (New York, 2015); Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art (Rotterdam, 2014); MAK Museum, Vienna; and Performa 11 (New York, 2011). Her works are included in international collections including Arter, Istanbul; British Museum, London; Castello di Rivoli, Turin; Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Qatar; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Kadist, Paris/San Francisco.
Shen Xin (b. 1990, Chengdu) creates moving image installations and performances that empower alternative histories, relations, and potentials between individuals and nation-states. They seek to create affirmative spaces of belonging that embrace polyphonic narratives and identities. Shen Xin’s most recent work, Brine Lake (A New Body), premiered at the 13th Gwangju Biennale (2021) and will have its North American premiere in their first US museum solo exhibition at Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, USA, 2021). Their solo presentation of exhibitions, performances, and screenings include Swiss Institute (New York, 2022); “Double Feature” (Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, 2019); “Synthetic Types” (Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 2019); “To Satiate” (MadeIn Gallery, Shanghai, 2019); “Warm Spell” (Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, 2018); “half-sung, half-spoken” (Serpentine Galleries, London, 2017); and “At Home” (Surplus Space, Wuhan, 2016). Their group exhibitions include “Language is a River” (Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne, 2021); “An Impulse to Turn” (Inside Out Museum, Beijing, 2020); “Sigg Prize 2019 Exhibition” (M+Museum, Hong Kong, 2019); “Afterimage: Dangdai Yishu” (Lisson Gallery, London, 2019); and the 4th New Museum Triennial (New York, 2018). They received the BALTIC Artists’ Award (2017) and held the Rijksakademie residency in Amsterdam (2018-2019). Shen Xin practice on Miní Sóta Makhóčhe, the land of the Dakhóta Oyáte, as well as in London, UK.
Su Yu Hsin
Su Yu Hsin (b. 1989, Taichung, lives and works in Berlin) is an artist and filmmaker. She approaches ecology in its close relationship with technology. In her essay film and video installation works, her artistic research reflects on technology, ecology, and the critical infrastructure where the human and non-human converge. Her analytical and poetic storytelling especially focuses on map-making, operational photography, and the technical production of geographical knowledge. Her works have been featured in international exhibitions such as the Museum of Contemporary Art Busan (Busan, South Korea, 2021); the 12th Taipei Biennial (2020); ZKM Karlsruhe (Karlsruhe, Germany, 2020); Kyoto Art Center (Kyoto, 2020); UCCA Center for Contemporary Art (Beijing, 2020); Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin, 2019); and Contemporary Art Museum (Buenos Aires, 2018). She was a finalist in the 8th Huayu Youth Award (2020) and LOOP Barcelona Discover (2018).
Su Yu-Xin (b. 1991, Taiwan) graduated from the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London in 2016 with an MFA Painting. Su considers painting as a place where multiple disciplines and various perceptual capacities intersect. Painters have always played a vital role in the visual art industry, and the medium of painting reflects the discovery and re-invention of the material world. Hence, paintings bear witness to the history of the exchange between cultures and nature and project the painter’s role through wars and migrations; they manifest territorial invasions and restitutions, and the exploitation of pigments and their trades. While the history of painting often emphasizes the stylistic evolution of image production, the technology of color pigments also evolves contemporaneously. Su Yu-Xin collects, studies, and processes these color substances scattered on the earth’s crust and invents a new order on the painting surface through drawing, compression, and accumulation. For her, such landscape painting is a geological practice of rearranging plants, minerals, organic and synthetic matters.
Su Yu-Xin has participated in numerous exhibitions including: “Let Painting Talk” (Taikang Space, Beijing, 2021); “A Long Hello” (UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, 2020); “The Picture Is Not at Ease” (MadeIn Gallery, Shanghai, 2020); “Almost No Memory” (MadeIn Gallery, Shanghai, 2020); “Hic Sunt Leones” (798 Art Center, Beijing, 2019); Wild Rhizome: 2018 Taiwan Biennial (National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, 2018); “Building Code Violation III – Special Economic Zone” (Long March Space, Beijing, 2017); “Trembling Surfaces” (Long March Space, Beijing, 2016); “Future Island” (Saatchi Gallery, London, 2016); “Refuse: Refuge: Re-fuse” (The Koppel Project, London, 2016).
Wang Wei (b. 1972, Beijing, lives and works in Beijing) graduated from Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1996. Wang Wei is a multidisciplinary installation artist who looks at how the navigation of physical spaces can inform us about our own lived reality. Through modifying existing architectural structures with subtle, surprising additions or appropriating stylized features from disparate sources, Wang Wei has developed a strong practice around interventions that are aimed to disrupt human perceptions of space while opening a dialogue about construction, labor, and ways of seeing.
Wang Wei’s work has been exhibited in a series of important exhibitions including: Thailand Biennale (Krabi, Thailand, 2018); the Second Yinchuan Biennale (MOCA Yinchuan, Ningxia, 2018); the 2017 California-Pacific Triennial (Orange County MuseumofArt,SantaAna,CA,USA,2017); PavilionofChinaatthe12thVenice Architecture Biennale (2010); the 2009 Shenzhen Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism (Shenzhen, 2009); “The Real Thing: Contemporary Art from China” (Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, 2007); “Foreign Objects” (Kunsthalle Wien Project Space, Vienna, 2007); Beyond: The Second Guangzhou Triennial (Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, 2005); A Second Sight: International Biennale of Contemporary Art (National Gallery, Prague, 2005); “Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China” (International Center of Photography, New York, 2004); the First Guangzhou Triennial (Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, 2002); “Post-sense Sensibility: Alien Bodies and Delusion” (Beijing, 1999).
Tant Zhong (b. 1990, Wuhan, lives and works in Shanghai) specializes in applying the language of material and form to the coexistence of different media, weaving, stringing, combining or constructing multiple associations between various objects and words in an improvised manner. By appropriating ready-made objects from the current capitalist industrial production and circulation system, her works often humorously dive into deeper dimensions of perception beyond the corresponding identification mechanisms of signifiant and signifié. So far in her art practice, artistic decision-making moments usually arise from random or accidental experiences and intuitions of the moment, and ambiguity becomes a counterweight to established cognitions—just as there is no clear division between her different forms and media, heterogeneous materials are often collected and preserved in a space and time where inertia and paradox coexist.
Zhong has participated in exhibitions including: “The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over the Lazy Dog” (Tabula Rasa Gallery, Beijing, 2017); “Tissue and Tissue Paper” (Tabula Rasa Gallery, Beijing, 2016); “Lead, Lead, Lead” (Surplus Space, Wuhan, 2017); “The Force Temple” (Tank Shanghai, Shanghai, 2019); “Questioning Photography Now” (Galaxy Museum of Contemporary Art, Chongqing, 2018); “I Do (Not) Want to Be Part of Your Celebration” (Qiao Space and Tank Shanghai Project Space, Shanghai, 2017); “Message from the Ruin” (Asia Art Center, Taipei, 2016).
Aranya Gold Coast