Opening reception: Thursday, September 16 | 6–9 pm
Screening and conversation: Friday, September 17 | 6:30pm at the haudenschildGarage, La Jolla, CA.
REDCAT is pleased to present the first Los Angeles presentation of two influential contemporary artists who pioneered the field of video art in China: Hangzhou-based artist Zhang Peili and Beijing-based artist Zhu Jia. Though both artists trained in oil painting, they have exclusively worked in video and photography since the late 1980s/early 1990s; earning Zhang the title of the father of video art in China for his first video work 30x30 (1989). The radical departure between their training and practice becomes the impetus for this exhibition and the interrogation of video as a medium of provocation, resistance and reflection. Through a parallel presentation of their work, the exhibition will provide an engaging look at of both Zhang and Zhu's works over the last 15 years—tracking their interest in a time-based medium and their experimentation with form and representation.
Coming out of a generation that witnessed the ramifications of the Cultural Revolution, the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre and the infamous 1989 China/Avant-Garde exhibition and its subsequent closing by state authorities, Zhang and Zhu use video to navigate the complex and shifting terrain that characterizes contemporary China. Their body of work begins with a position that poignantly challenges social mores, economic development, authoritative politics and cultural values, and expands into universal themes of the individual, time, duration and the loss of innocence and idealism. Working against the hyper-inflated art market of contemporary Chinese art, their practices are rooted in a critical, cynical, almost melancholic distance that has resulted in a consistent output of work living and working in their respective hometowns. Though their work has been shown in the context of large group exhibitions on Chinese contemporary art and international biennials in Europe and Asia, this will be the first in-depth examination of the two artists' works in Los Angeles.
Each artist will present newly commissioned work alongside past works that date back to the early 1990s. Zhang will present an early video work titled Document on Hygiene No.3 (1991)—an absurd, yet tender act of bathing a chicken that ruminates on the clinical processes of bureaucracy; a 12-channel video installation Uncertain Pleasure (1996); Last Words (2003)—a compilation of edited film fragments of Cultural Revolution heroes dying repeated deaths; and a new work titled One Line, One Kilometer (2010) commissioned by REDCAT. Zhu will present his seminal work Forever (1994)—a discombobulating video that captures the streets of Beijing through the circular movement of a bicycle wheel; Never Take Off (2002)—an airplane cruising endlessly on the tarmac, a lamentation on latent or wasted energy; We are Perfect (2009)—a photographic series that captures the veneer and fragility of the idealism of nation, identity and modernity; and a new, two-channel video work entitled Steaming (2010) about expended time, energy and effort, a counter response to China's ever-growing economy and power. Using characteristic wit, humor and poignancy, the artists reflect upon the vast political, economic and social change in China.
Not Only Time: Zhang Peili and Zhu Jia is funded in part with generous support from the Nimoy Foundation and the haudenschildGarage.
Gallery at REDCAT aims to support, present, commission and nurture new creative insights through dynamic projects and challenging ideas. The Gallery presents five exhibitions every year, often of newly commissioned work, that represents the artist's first major presentation in the U.S. or Los Angeles. The Gallery also maintains an active publishing program producing as many as two major monographs per year. Proceeding from the geographic and cultural specificities of Los Angeles, its program emphasizes artistic production of the Pacific Rim—namely Mexico, Central and South America and Asia--as regions that are of vital significance to California. The Gallery aims to facilitate dialogue between local and international artists contributing to a greater understanding of the social, political and cultural contexts that inform contemporary artistic practice.
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REDCAT is located at the corner of W. 2nd and Hope Streets, inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex in downtown Los Angeles (631 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012.)