Tabula Rasa Gallery is pleased to announce that Cheng Xinhao's solo exhibition Floating Wood and Drowning Stone opens from 4 September to 29 October 2021 at our Beijing space. As the artist's first solo show with the gallery, this exhibition presents nine video works focusing on Body in Context, including two new works, Der Rhein and Extension Line, completed during the Pro Helvetia residency project in 2021. This exhibition is curated by Wang Paopao.
It's the start of the Rhine project. Cheng Xinhao started from Oberalppass and picked up a stone at the source of the Rhine River. Then walked downstream and exchanged other stones with the one he brought. The walk stopped in Boden Lake.
At the northern end of the Liechtenstein-Austria border, the borderline extends along hill ridges and streams. The last few hundred metres of the borderline, however, do not follow any particular terrain feature, but seem to follow the direction of the previous stream, as an extended line, crossing a field and meeting the Swiss border at the middle line of the Rhine. On 11 June 2021, I tried to walk along the last 700 metres of the borderline up to the point where the three countries meet.
This is an art project about the Yunnan-Vietnam Railway, and the beginning of a series of projects about roads and walking. Yunnan-Vietnam Railway, a meter-gage railway connecting my hometown and Vietnam, was built by French colonisers in the first decade of the 20th century. The construction started from the port city Haiphong in 1900, reached Hanoi, then extended northwest into Yunnan, and finally reached Kunming in 1910. It is the first modern transport system in Yunnan Province. I lived near the Yunnan-Vietnam Railway when I was a little boy. It carried my imagination of the ocean since I was told that it ends in a port city.
December 1, 2019, Cheng Xinhao departed from Kunming. He decided to walk along the Yunnan-Vietnam Railway, of which the end is the ocean. During this journey, he picked up a piece of railway ballast for every kilometre. Eventually, it took him 19 days to cover the part of the Yunnan of the whole railway, as long as 465 kilometres. The weight of the stone on his body reached more than 20 kilograms.
The ongoing project consists of a series of walking, writing and videos. It is a polyphonic narrative about the railway, about the land of Yunnan-personal stories once happening on this land, about the colonised history of two East Asian countries, about the modernisation of the mountainous areas in Southeast Asia, and also about Cheng Xinhao's childhood memories and geographical imagination, about his connection with his hometown and the region.
Press release courtesy Tabula Rasa Gallery.