Critics’ Picks

View of “Trembling Surfaces,” 2016–2017.

View of “Trembling Surfaces,” 2016–2017.


“Trembling Surfaces”

Long March Space 长征空间
798 Art Zone, No. 4 Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang District
December 10, 2016–February 14, 2017

Travel, one could argue, spans three basic notions: time, displacement, and experience. The artist-curator duo Guo Xi and Zhang Jianling have not only adopted travel as a narrative device in their artistic practice in the past (their nautical expedition in 2015 resulted in the work The Great Navigation) but have also translated their shared intrigues, in discovering an alternative narrative, into their work. This exhibition offers a survey of artist peers who have taken up the torch and explored journeys of their own making.

Whether it is through hypothetical time travel to the future in order to examine the present retrospectively (Joeun Aatchim’s series “Draft,” 2016, is made up of uneven pieces of stone mosaics on which the viewer finds text from an unfinished email) or piecing together the memories of lost footage to reconstruct a travel experience (Yunyu Ayo Shih’s postage stamp), the works allow viewers glimpses into slippage: the unexpected and uncertain moments in each artist’s oeuvre. Tong Yixin compounds quotidian experience into tapestries, while Zhu Changquan collages various visual elements of travel into moving images that defy linear notions of time and displacement. Feng Chen’s Single Eye, 2013–14, and W, 2015, are mechanical inventions; the former, inspired by an artist’s friend’s limited eyesight, is an ocular device that adds 3-D depth to a visual field; the latter mimics the sound of waves. Meanwhile, Su Yuxin condenses temporal and geographical experiences of displacement onto canvas. While exploring peripatetic themes, these devices serve as meditations on popular culture, fiction, identity, institutional critique, and art-historical references, to name a few, in which the exhibited artists’ practices are deeply engaged. As a viewer traverses these vignettes, visual clues act as pinholes through which one may peep into journeys taken by others choosing the road less traveled.