Travis Jeppesen

  • Huang Xiaopeng, K.O.H.D. 1, 2014, video, color, sound, 60 minutes. From “Don’t Kill Me I’m in Love!”

    “Don’t Kill Me I’m in Love!”

    Over the years, the Guangzhou art scene has developed a delightfully ragged independence from Beijing and Shanghai, fostering a coterie of artists stubbornly engaged in forms of political critique that are officially frowned upon. These artists embrace a sense of experimentation that would likely fall afoul of the government’s recent condemnation of what was identified in state media this past summer as “abnormal aesthetics.” One of the central protagonists of this scene was Huang Xiaopeng, who passed away unexpectedly in Berlin at the age of sixty in 2020. His influence continues to be felt,

  • Shuang Li, Marry Me for Chinese Citizenship, 2015, ink-jet print, 15 3⁄4 × 23 5⁄8".

    OPENINGS: SHUANG LI

    “I’M STUCK in these perpetual waves of unrest,” writes artist Shuang Li in a recent essay about her current situation of placelessness. In 2020, Li traveled from China to Berlin for a solo exhibition of her work at Peres Projects. Then the Covid-19 pandemic hit. She has been quartered in Europe ever since, giving up on the possibility of returning to her native China anytime soon.

    Li’s state of stasis has lent greater urgency to her already intense reflection on the nature of spectral and digitized forms of presence and on the more generalized status of the body in both virtual and physical space.

  • Alice Wang, Untitled, 2020, mixed media. Installation view.

    Alice Wang

    A yearning for the otherworldly—for what certainly or seemingly lies beyond our reach—undergirds all of Alice Wang’s work, which trespasses on astronomy, geology, ancient history, and science fiction. Her recent exhibition consisted largely of sculptures, along with four black-and-white photographs and the video Pyramids and Parabolas II, 2021, a sequel to or a continuation of a 2019 work presented in a 2020 group show at this same gallery. Visitors were first confronted with a circular table topped with two-way mirrored glass, on which were perched six gleaming silver shards; like most of work

  • Shih Meng Hsin, ( ), 2020, iron,wood, lightbulbs. Installation view. Photo: Kagaw Omin.

    Shih Meng Hsin

    For his exhibition “19:00,” Shih Meng Hsin brought the streets of Taipei into the gallery, the night into the day. Titling his show after the hour that the subtropical island finds itself cast in the neon pallor of nocturne, Shih dimmed the gallery lights into a permanent nightscape while installing a number of items familiar to any somnambulant wanderer of the capital city’s urban scene. Entering the space, one met streetlights perched on iron columns—though the normally erect columns had been twisted slightly, like Beauty and the Beast candlesticks paused in the middle of a welcome dance, or

  • View of “You and I Don’t Live on the Same Planet,” 2020–21. From left: Aruwai Kaumakan, The Axis of Life, 2018; Aruwai Kaumakan, Vines in the Mountains, 2020. From the Taipei Biennial 2020.

    Taipei Biennial

    Right away, the latest edition of the Taipei Biennial announced itself as a thesis exhibition with its pseudo-provocative title: “You and I Don’t Live on the Same Planet.” Bruno Latour asserts that this slogan, once intended as a sort of ironic put-down, actually holds true, as humanity’s perceptions of the Earth’s processes in the twenty-first century have become so distorted and polarized that rival perceptions have inevitably altered what we once collectively visualized as Nature. Latour and cocurator Martin Guinard understand exhibition making as an exercise in pedantry. Visitors arriving

  • James Vaughan, Friends and Strangers, 2021, HD video, color, sound, 84 minutes.
    film February 18, 2021

    The New Weird

    “RUN ME OVER,” tremble the lips of a masochist to the woman who bullied him in high school. “Please . . . I want you to run me over with your car.” She doesn’t. Because only one thing sexually satisfies her these days: cooking mapo tofu.

    A wildly aspirational genderqueer version of As You Like It, with all roles played by women, in Mandarin and set in a futuristic Taipei where a burgeoning countercultural resistance to social media has resulted in internet-free zones ornamented with anime sprites, Chinese opera, calligraphy, and divinatory paraphernalia—a cinematic parallel to hyperpop.

    A successful

  • Wang Sishun, Apocalypse, 2016–, copper, stone, aluminum, dimensions variable. From “Study of Things.”

    “Study of Things”

    Things are so sexy. That’s because they are dead. Or fundamentally useless. According to Heidegger, a thing is an object fallen. An object has use, real use, functionality; it becomes a thing when it is broken down and we can no longer use it—at least not for the purpose for which it was designed. A thing is therefore kind of like art, which, in some classical-modernist sense, is meant to have no function other than to impel reflection.

    But objects have been asserting their thingness a lot as of late, thinging all over the place, in a hylozoic revivalism presented to us by twenty-first-century

  • Guan Xiao, Messenger, 2020, pigmented bronze, lacquered porcelain, bicycle parts, dried flowers, 72 7/8 × 43 1/4 × 16 1/8".

    Guan Xiao

    Guan Xiao works in both sculpture and video and often finds ways of linking the two mediums in unexpected ways. At the same time, her work is language- and narrative-heavy, though language always comes after the fact. For the videos, she amasses her footage first, then sculpts her narrative out of it, content directing form. For her latest exhibition of eight freestanding sculptures (complemented by seven wall sculptures of palettes), the artist cast 3D-printed anthropomorphic beings in bronze; attached to them a mixture of industrial, handcrafted, ready-made, or natural objects; then wrote

  • Alec Soth, Bill, Sandusky, Ohio, 2012, ink-jet print, 44 1/4 × 57 1/4". Courtesy Sean Kelly.
    picks September 24, 2020

    Alec Soth

    Alec Soth’s first solo exhibition in China has come at the lowest point, politically, in US-China relations in several decades. That “The Space Between Us” has proven to be immensely popular—crowds lined up in Shanghai’s searing summer heat to see it—is indicative less of local interest in Soth as an artist than of an intense fascination with the vision of America his work presents. Along with LaToya Ruby Frazier, Soth marks the twenty-first century continuation of the tradition established by the likes of Walker Evans, documenting the lives of those Americans destined to dwell in the lands

  • Clifford Prince King, Jug of Change, 2019, ink-jet print, 36 × 24".

    Clifford Prince King

    Clifford Prince King is a photographer who documents black gay male desire. Given that artists such as James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, and Marlon Riggs are among his canonical forebears, his approach might seem a daunting gambit for any young artist to pursue. But as the six works featured in his online exhibition at Launch F18 attested, King very much has his own voice, which both harmonizes with and distinguishes itself from this esteemed lineage.

    In Jug of Change, 2019, a nude man sits in a swivel chair, his foot extended onto beige, wall-to-wall carpeting. The upper half of his head is wrapped

  • VSF assistant director Somin Jeon showing disinfectants to the Zoom audience. All photos: VSF.
    diary April 16, 2020

    Zooming Out

    WHO KNEW 2020 WOULD END UP THIS WAY, with someone asking me to stare at American flags on my laptop screen and write about it for Artforum? But that’s precisely what I’m doing on day thirteen of my fortnight of mandatory home quarantine in Shanghai, having recently returned from a post-Wuhan COVID-19 evasion tour. It’s eight o’clock in the morning: I’m wiping sleep out of my eyes with my hand-sanitized fingers and pouring gratuitous amounts of black coffee down my throat, keeping an ear out for the body-condom-ensheathed volunteer from my neighborhood committee who bangs on my door twice a day

  • Zhang Ding, High-Speed Forms #4 (detail), 2019, copper, gold, stainless steel, 90 1⁄2 × 22 7⁄8 × 37 3⁄4".

    Zhang Ding

    Zhang Ding’s work to date has centered on immersive installations that feel less like discrete artworks than intangible experiences. “Opening,” at ShanghART in 2011, waived the art in favor of spectacle, re-creating a nightclub interior in the space of a gallery. “Buddha Jumps over the Wall,” in 2012, turned Shanghai’s TOP Contemporary Art Center into a kitsched-out banquet hall for the nouveau riche, recalling the kinds of interiors that have become increasingly common in China’s coastal cities over the past decade. In London in 2015, “Enter the Dragon,” named after the iconic Bruce Lee movie,