Empty Gallery is pleased to present Ruthless Logic, Xavier Cha's first solo exhibition in Asia. Ruthless Logic consists of a single monumental moving image work, produced by the artist in Hong Kong at the legendary Shaw Studios. Cha's practice deploys performance, video, and happenings in the service of expressing what she has termed 'the schizophrenic state of psychotic simultaneity which characterises an interior subjectivity under the conditions of technologically-enabled capitalism. In her concerted exploration of the conditioned affects and habituated (often compulsive) behavioural patterns associated with the near-ubiquity of social media networks, apps, and personal devices, Cha articulates the paradox of a social reality in which one's innermost desires and emotions are relentlessly colonised by foreign interests, yet manage to preserve a shred of their own sovereignty; somehow other and yet ultimately still one's own.
Employing what might be called an aesthetics of dissociation, Cha's previous works Body Drama and abduct created bare and disorienting affective spaces by abstracting moments of intense emotional and/or bodily performance from their regulating frameworks. Ruthless Logic extends this approach into the territory of martial arts cinema – perhaps Hong Kong's most influential cultural export. Realized through collaboration with local film industry veterans, including luminaries such as Jack Wai-Leung Wong (action choreographer for such films as Killzone 2 II) and Kwan Pun Leung (a frequent collaborator of Wong Kar-Wai), and French-Iranian-Egyptian musician Yasmine Dubois (Lawfandah), Ruthless Logic represents Empty's most ambitious moving image production yet.
A depiction of an endless confrontation between martial artists German Cheung and Rafael Reynoso, the film is a series of crystalline, hallucinogenic, and emotionally-charged fragments of action occurring in a dream-like space. This space is traversed by Cha's constantly tracking camera, its clinical yet sensual gaze circulates over the bodies in the frame, emphasizing the inherently rhythmic nature of martial movement to hypnotic effect. Applying her ongoing inquiry into the affective economies of performance and spectatorship to kung fu cinema, Cha deliberately frustrates the narrative expectations associated with the genre by making perverse usage of its signature stylistic tropes. Familiar effects from the grammar of global action cinema such as bullet-time, wire-work, and extreme slow motion are deployed not to heighten onscreen action, but rather to slow it down – forcing a very different kind of spectatorial engagement. In stripping away all extraneous content and reducing the fight sequence to its bare essence, Ruthless Logic reveals a hypnotic and balletic cascade of mediated bodies in which the rhythms of choreographed gesture begin to suggest the tide-like circulation of physical, cultural, and emotional capital between East and West.
Press release courtesy Empty Gallery.