Critics’ Picks

Lu Yang, LuYang Delusional Mandala, 2015, HD video, color, sound, 16 minutes 26 seconds.

Lu Yang, LuYang Delusional Mandala, 2015, HD video, color, sound, 16 minutes 26 seconds.


Lu Yang

Genthiner Strasse 36
April 28–June 10, 2017

What is it that sets Lu Yang apart from all the other millennial artists dabbling in CGI-powered fantasies of techno-dystopias? As an answer, her new show gestures beyond post-Internet excess and rigorous 3-D modeling toward her capacity for transforming even the most tedious recitation of facts into a mesmerizing visual narrative. In such videos as LuYang Delusional Mandala, 2015, or LuYang Delusional Crime and Punishment, 2016, a text-to-speech voice describes features of the central nervous system or physiological stages of death, painstakingly setting forth information as sonic ready-mades, against the sound track of an electronica-infused East Asian dance party. Having been plucked free of her hair and sex characteristics with 3-D imaging software at the beginning of LuYang Delusional Mandala, the artist stars in both videos as a genderless naked raver—sometimes wearing a digital wig—whose presence distracts the viewer from the animated infographics playing behind her. Add to this mix all the different levels of hell that sinners might be relegated to, and you get a satyr-as-devil go-go boy gyrating to R&B on top of a rotating brain.

For Gong Tau Kite, 2016, however, Lu goes in the direction of the visually smooth and uncluttered by zooming in on a soaring, gigantic inflatable head with very long dreadlocks above a desert-like landscape. Accompanied by a mellow dance track by the Singapore-born, New York–based producer Yllis, the drone footage of the tentacled creature has a flawless finish and wouldn’t look out of place in an advertisement for SXSW. Yet the invasion of the gallery’s high-ceilinged rooms by this kite’s appendages (or rather the work’s claustrophobic confinement to a dark gallery space) suggests that the transcendence-seeking lust for packaged experiences is nothing but futile.