Walsh Gallery

Visual Performance


Dates: Apr 30 2004 - Jun 10 2004

Opening Reception: Apr 30 2004

VISUAL PERFORMANCE : new media works by six Asian artists curated by Wu Hung and Julie Walsh

Chicago, Illinois;

Wu Hung and Julie Walsh bring "Visual Performance" to Chicago

Opening at Walsh Gallery is a show of new media called "Visual Performance" curated by Wu Hung and director Julie Walsh. The show features artists Nalini Malani, Song Dong, Ranbir Kaleka, Zhou Xiaohu, Wang Gongxin, and Jongbum Choi. The opening reception is on Friday, April 30th from 7-9pm at Walsh Gallery. Many of the artists will be present.

Wu Hung, Director of the Center for the Art of East Asia and Consulting Curator of the Smart Museum of Art (University of Chicago), has curated groundbreaking exhibitions of contemporary art in the United States and abroad. He was the chief curator of the First Guangzhou Triennial (2002) and is currently co-curating the upcoming show "Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China", which will open on June 11th in New York at the International Center of Photography and the Asia Society. It will then open in Chicago (at the MCA and Smart Museum) on October 2nd, before traveling to other museums around the world. Julie Walsh brings ten years of experience in exhibiting contemporary Asian art to this curatorial platform.

Digital technology provides new possibilities for reinvesting manufactured images with seemingly autonomous power. Historically, such a pursuit has stimulated the creation of important artistic styles and concepts, including verisimilitude, illusionism, and the living icon. This new technology also allows contemporary artists to reflect upon and respond to earlier art forms, transforming paintings and sculptures into animated images with enhanced visual immediacy.

Nalini Malani will be showing a video piece called "Unity in Diversity", based on a painting by Raja Ravi Varma that was exhibited in Chicago in 1893 at the World Congress of Religions. During this viewing a famous philosopher, Swami Vivekananda, addressed 'the danger of orthodoxy in religion.' For Ms. Malani, this was to become a present day warning of the acceleration of violence against the Muslim community, condoned by the Hindu Fundamentalist Party. The video is a modern day fairy-tale where eleven Indian women perform in harmony, and are juxtaposed with an account of the 2002 genocide in Gujerat. Ms. Malani's works have been seen at the 2003 Istanbul Biennial, the Tate Modern (London), the Fukuoaka Asian Art Museum (Japan), and numerous other museums around the world. Ms. Malani's work has also been included in the Johannesburg, Havana, and Kwangju Biennials.

In Song Dong's video projection "Slapping", a giant hand comes down and slaps the ground; the artist's body becomes implicit. This "visual performance" is accompanied by a loud smacking sound, reminding the audience that in Buddhist practice, jarring sounds are used to awaken the meditator into a state of full awareness of the present. Song Dong's work has been exhibited at museums both nationally and around the world, such as: The David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art (Chicago), P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center (New York), the Museum of Modern Art (Finland), and both at the House of World Cultures and the Hamburger Bahnof Museum of Contemporary Art in Berlin. Song Dong has also exhibited in many biennials and triennials on contemporary Chinese art, such as the first and subsequent Kwanju biennials, the 4th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (Australia), and the Guangzhou Triennial in 2002.

Ranbir Kaleka will be exhibiting a video projected onto both sides of a seemingly sheer screen. Entitled "Man with Cockerel," it shows a man stuck in a heavenly digital loop, as he appears and grabs a cockerel, only to have it escape. Finally, the man vanishes too. The viewer assumes a voyeuristic gaze, as if caught observing an act of creation and dissolution by a divine power. Mr. Kaleka's work has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art (Oxford), the Fifth Triennial India (New Dehli), the Festival of Indian Art in Geneva (Switzerland), Kunsthalle (Vienna), the House of World Cultures (Berlin), and the NGMA (Mumbai). In 2004, Mr.Kaleka's work will be shown at the Asia Society (New York) and at the Culturgest (Lisbon). Ranbir Kaleka will be present at the opening reception.

Zhou Xiaohu will be exhibiting a video entitled "The Gooey Gentleman." In the video, a woman is drawn onto the skin of a nude, male torso. At first, the cartoon woman is quite happy with the artist's rendering. However, soon she wants to reinvent herself and becomes angry at the parameters he has set for who she should be. She ultimately escapes, goes into the man, and turns him into a cartoon on her body. The man then escapes and they duel with a surprise outcome. Mr. Xiaohu's videos have been seen at numerous museums including: the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the House of World Cultures (Germany), the Guangzhou Museum of Art (China), and the Hamburger Bahnof Museum of Contemporary Art (Germany). Mr. Xiaohu's works have also appeared in 2001 at the New Media Art Festival (Brisbane) and the 3rd Bangkok Experimental Film Festival (Bangkok). In 2000, his work was also shown in the Shanghai Biennial.

Wang Gongxin will be showing a video piece entitled "Always Welcome" of two virtual lions whose heads and bodies are separated by two monitors. As you watch the lions, they begin to move and shift slowly. Stone lion statues traditionally guard entrances to temples and palaces; here they have become alive and welcome visitors to the show. Wang Gongxin's work has been seen at the 2001 Venice Biennial (Italy), the 2001 Sao Paolo Biennial (Brazil), and the 2002 Guangzhou Triennial (China). His videos have also been shown at museums throughout Europe. Wang Gongxin was also included in the 18th world-wide video festival in the Netherlands.

Jongbum Choi will be showing a video piece called "Sikaku." This is an odyssey into the world of Dali's paintings. In the opening scene a Christ figure wards off phantom elephants with obelisks on their backs. Mr. Choi directly quotes from Dali's paintings and then animates the images within each work, adding his own imagery. In Dali's 1944 painting "One second before awakening from a dream caused by the flight of a bee around a pomegranate", a fish emerges from a pomegranate followed by two tigers. As a gun is tossed at a sleeping nude, a team of cyclist skeletons with sheer capes and bouncing babies on their heads ride through this landscape. Mr. Choi's video installation and performances have been seen at Kobe Fashion Museum (Japan), the Seoul Museum of Art (Korea), the Kobe Art Village (Japan), and the Total Museum (Seoul). Jongbum Choi will be present at the opening reception.