Individuality has completely vanished, only traces become memories that linger in the recesses of consciousness
September 2 – October 21 2018
In each of the two rooms at Kunsthalle, Guan Xiao (b. 1983, lives and works in Beijing) arranges a three channel video projection and sculptural installation that mirrors and duplicates itself across the gallery. The twin setting is dramatically accentuated through the use of colour and light effects in each of the two spaces. A perfect coupling of thesis and antithesis is created, testing our visual perception and sending the viewer off-kilter. Moving between the two rooms results in a nauseous flickering; a disquieting scenographic effect in tune with the works’ concern around technologically induced societal disorders of perception.
The video projections, Weather Forecast (2016) and Dengue, Dengue, Dengue(2017) show images of nature, animals, and people in frenzies of anger, pain or joy, often alongside scientific text and information. The online sourced images form a powerfully suggestive moving collage. Visuals combine with an elaborate sound layer of catchy techno beats, hypnotic catch-phrases or slogans and informational texts read by newsreaders and annotators. The texts, spoken or displayed as subtitles, simultaneously point to wisdom and banality in the same breath; meaning is illusive, full of pre-tense and often empty. For example, the sentence “how to connect a chair to Europe is like how to connect a horse to a copier” teases the brain with the suggestion of meaning, yet comes up stupidly short. The statement “we must be, for which we must be free” poses as philosophical insight - or is it only familiar sounding, the result of the pre-tense of meaning or simply a case of lost-in-translation?
With her show at Kunsthalle Winterthur, Guan Xiao delivers a masterful cipher for reality lost in too many possibly irrelevant questions. The status quo of the individual as well as society in general is mirrored. The reaction: an exponential increase of processing power. The result: a rise of what is now referred to in tech circles as “operating temperature”, where humankind is close to a permanent state of irritability, a feverish limbo at risk of collapse any moment.