In Just a Blink of an Eye
Curated by Lu Jie & David A. Ross and Defne Ayas (PERFORMA)
Co-presented by PERFORMA, Long March Project, and James Cohan Gallery as part of PERFORMA07, the second visual performance biennial (October 27 - November 20, 2007)
In Just a Blink of an Eye, at first sight, this work by leading conceptual artist Xu Zhen seems to defy possibility. In an empty room at the gallery are people completely tilted, as if ready to topple, but frozen as if in time or in space. Although the optical illusion can be surmised to be accomplished through a metal frame upon which the model lays upon, the work nonetheless serves to create an anxiety within the viewer that is at once exhilarating, as if the viewer has been liberated from the constraints of time and physics, as well as debilitating, in the failure to see the action resolved.
The work is performed by migrants recruited from Chinatown, and other communities within New York, pointing at their liminal status within an undefined space. Their migration has been frozen and trapped, at the same time, the relationship of the viewer is also called into question; their subjectivity both exercising the power to freeze and create a snap shot, as if in the blink of an eye, at the same time, filled with an anxiety with the need for resolution. Will the person stand up, or will they fall over - or will they remain stuck forever?