From 4 December 2021–12 June 2022, UCCA Dune presents the group show The Rearview Landscape, or a Trip of Ownership, assembling context-specific artworks by nine artists arising from their own personal research and practice, based on the representation of landscapes. The works channel the sceneries observed both on journeys and in daily life into a larger-scale investigation of the global order of manufactured landscapes as shaped by nature, economics, culture, and politics. Through the overlapping of these landscapes and the dialogue between them, the artists attempt to reveal hidden inner connections and power games beneath the surface of our world. Participating artists include Vajiko Chachkhiani, Liu Yujia, Aslı Çavuşoğlu, Xiaoshi Vivian Vivian Qin, Shen Xin, Su Yu Hsin, Su Yu-Xin, Wang Wei, and Tant Zhong. This exhibition is curated by UCCA Curator Yan Fang.
Does landscape have an owner? Is it the person who owns the land itself, or the traveller who takes in the sight? As a medium, landscape is coloured by mental images both immediate and remote, called up as one comprehends the world. Is the true order of the world hidden within these representations? If we understand a journey as a process of transformation in thought, then is it possible, on a trip in which one's experience is predetermined, to move forward gradually, poetically and furtively? From the perspective of the nine participating artists in this exhibition, landscape is no longer the environment or scene that carries certain images, behaviour, or narrative in the normative sense, but rather, a particular medium that has been programmed and implicated with cultural expression and meaning. In their respective practices, the artists leave behind the existing conceptual understanding of landscape and instead, draws attention to the role of 'viewing' in image production through the landscape itself or images generated from landscapes. Discussing issues surrounding nature, the economy, history, society, culture, and aesthetics, the artworks interrogate from various angles the question of ownership hidden behind the construction of landscapes.
Examining landscape as a medium, the artists also open up new possibilities in our perception of the relationships between human and nature, and between self and world. How may we observe landscape from a global perspective? How do we think about this world we live in, and we ourselves, who live in it? Peter Sloterdijk's discourse on globalisation may provide us with a macro perspective. As he points out in his In the World Interior of Capital, the earth is a natural, spherical, celestial body, which has been discovered, and then constantly rediscovered, by the human imagination. After the development of modern colonialism and the expansion of European states, the evolution of electronic information technology and the advent of orbital satellites in the postwar era ushered in a new age of globalisation, one encircled by media (or even digitised). Today's tendency towards an integrated world of capital resembles a greenhouse—just like Dostoyevsky's metaphor of the Crystal Palace—gradually absorbing everything that originally was external into its internal space. It relies on the 'stage' and the pleasant illusion of its backdrop. Against this landscape, those within society undergo an integrationist program of discipline, of economization and the standardization of commodity markets, that maintains the strict and efficient operation of capitalist industry. Ultra-high-speed globalisation has caused people to lose the perception they had in modern times of the vastness of the world, and to despatialise the real earth little by little. In this era of acceleration, the intensified interactions of people driven by desire, wrapped up in ecstasy and excitement, share something in common with the contemporary collective claustrophobia described by Paul Virilio. In fact, Virilio believes, since we have lost the 'life-size' space that is a basic necessity for survival, we have become 'desolation tourists,' wandering aimlessly for an escape from the overcrowded anxieties of globalization. 'Migrants of happiness' flock to tourist sites with beautiful scenery to get away from the interactivity of electronic screens, while 'migrants of sadness' flee from these tourist destinations, where they cannot survive.
The disconnection between the different regions of the world, caused by the pandemic, does not mean that the internal connections of this system have disappeared. Bound up in the multiple layers of complex reality in today's society, can we pass through landscapes—which in our own travels may be easily reduced to mere objects of aesthetic appreciation—and, according them the full vigilance required to all historical, political, and aesthetic levels, move through the 'real' to remove the emptiness of consumption brought about by the commodification of memory, arriving at the true possession of subject consciousness? In this exhibition, the nine artists move into the landscape from different perspectives, examining various issues behind natural scenery and images, including labour, migration, habitation, travel, territory, race, and ecology.
Press release courtesy UCCA Dune.