Kunsthalle Düsseldorf

Ian Cheng, Wu Tsang, Jor­dan Wolf­s­on

07 Feb - 19 Apr 2015

© Wu Tsang
The Looks, 2015
Foto: Achim Kukulies
© Ian Cheng
Thousand Islands Thousand Laws, 2013
Foto: Achim Kukulies
© Jordan Wolfson
Raspberry Poser, 2012
Foto: Achim Kukulies
Real Humans
7 February – 19 April 2015

Cu­ra­ted by Elo­die Evers and Iri­na Ras­kin.

The Re­al Hu­mans ex­hi­bi­ti­on pres­ents works by Ian Cheng, Wu Tsang, and Jor­dan Wolf­s­on, three young Ame­ri­can ar­tists, who each, in their own way, re­flect on the con­di­ti­ons of
what it me­ans to be a hu­man being in their mul­ti­me­dia pie­ces. Each of them ta­kes on a dif­fe­rent per­spec­tive, ex­ami­ning so­cio-cul­tu­ral, bio­lo­gi­cal, eco­no­mic or psy­cho­lo­gi­cal struc­tu­res in­to which the hu­man being is in­te­gra­ted and which he par­ti­ci­pa­tes in ge­ne­ra­ting or even chan­ging. In­so­far as the ar­tists ha­ve a space of their own to pre­sent their works, the ex­hi­bi­ti­on
for­mat al­lows for an “ex­pe­ri­ence space” for sin­gu­lar en­coun­ters as well as linka­ges bet­ween the three po­si­ti­ons. Re­al Hu­mans re­pres­ents Wu Tsang’s and Ian Cheng’s first in­sti­tu­tio­nal ex­hi­bi­ti­on in Ger­ma­ny, and bo­th ar­tists ha­ve de­ve­lo­ped new works for this show.

Ian Cheng (b. 1984, USA) first stu­died co­gni­ti­ve sci­ence in Ca­li­for­nia be­fo­re swit­ching to ar­tis­tic prac­tice in New York. The de­ve­lop­ment of li­ve si­mu­la­ti­ons—a di­gi­tal pro­cess for the pro­duc­tion of po­ten­ti­al­ly in­fi­ni­te and un­pre­dic­ta­ble ani­ma­ti­ons—is at the heart of his works. Their cour­se is cal­cu­la­ted in re­al ti­me so that image and sound are de­for­med and trans­for­med li­ve. The ani­ma­ted li­ve si­mu­la­ti­ons re­pre­sent a pos­si­bi­li­ty to re­think the re­la­ti­ons­hip bet­ween hu­ma­ni­ty and the en­vi­ron­ment, as well as to play­ful­ly ma­ke (un-) ima­ginable evo­lu­ti­ons tan­gi­b­le. Ques­ti­ons con­cerning the re­la­ti­ons­hips bet­ween men­tal struc­tu­res and be­ha­vi­or, as well as their re­cipro­cal in­flu­en­ces are just as pre­sent in his works as is the ex­ami­na­ti­on of the bo­un­da­ries of crea­ti­vi­ty and con­trol, and agen­cy and trans­for­ma­ti­on. Cheng has de­ve­lo­ped a pre­sen­ta­ti­on for Re­al Hu­mans that pla­ces hu­man stan­dards against over-di­men­sio­ned ar­ran­ge­ments so that as a vi­si­tor one finds oneself in a si­tua­ti­on that can­not be gras­ped as a who­le. Ad­di­tio­nal­ly Cheng has the ex­hi­bi­ted pie­ces en­ter in­to a con­ver­sa­ti­on wi­th each other by me­ans of com­pu­ter soft­ware, af­fec­ting their form (light con­di­ti­ons, vo­lu­me, play­back
speed) through mu­tu­al in­flu­en­cing. This not on­ly mo­du­la­tes the view­er’s per­cep­ti­on but al­so the usu­al at­ten­ti­on eco­no­my in ex­hi­bi­ti­ons.

Wu Tsang (b. 1982, USA) is in­te­rested in va­ry­ing forms of iden­ti­ty con­struc­tions and re­la­ted ques­ti­ons wi­th re­gard to be­lon­ging. Tsang ex­ami­nes the gaps bet­ween the self and the other in his films and
per­for­man­ces by dea­ling wi­th bio­gra­phies of peop­le who, for ex­amp­le, are per­cei­ved dif­fer­ent­ly and iso­la­ted be­cau­se of their se­xu­al ori­en­ta­ti­on or eth­nic back­ground. His per­so­nal in­vol­ve­ment in the trans­gen­der sce­ne and the im­mi­grant mi­lieu is of­ten the star­ting point for his ar­tis­tic work in which he res­ta­ges the ever­y­day ex­pe­ri­en­ces of the prot­ago­nists, de­mons­tra­ting
re­pres­si­ons or de­scri­bing pro­ces­ses of trans­for­ma­ti­on and re­co­gni­ti­on. Of cen­tral im­port­an­ce is the play wi­th speech acts that ge­ne­ra­te and co­di­fy, but al­so al­ter iden­ti­ty. By em­ploy­ing the “full bo­dy quo­ta­ti­on” me­thod he de­ve­lo­ped, Tsang crea­tes an ali­e­na­ti­on ef­fect that marks the ten­si­on bet­ween the de­pic­tion and the de­pic­ted. Bo­th the power struc­tu­res in­to which Tsang is bound as spea­ker as well as the im­pos­si­bi­li­ty of re­pre­sen­ting the prot­ago­nists in all their com­ple­xi­ty are dealt wi­th in his films. Se­ver­al works, in­clu­ding the award-win­ning film WILD­NESS (2012), are kept in the style of ma­gi­cal rea­lism, which per­mits the em­bed­ding of the won­d­rous in­to the sto­ry li­ne wi­thout in­tro­du­cing it as so­me­thing ir­ra­tio­nal or ano­ma­lous.

Jor­dan Wolf­s­on (b. 1980, USA) plays wi­th the myths and mea­nings of the ca­pi­ta­list pic­to­ri­al world that in­flu­ence de­s­i­re and ima­gi­na­ti­on. Li­ke a dis­gor­ged sub­con­scious, the view­er is faced wi­th a cur­rent of ima­ges and mu­sic that can be read as signs for di­ver­gent sty­les and li­fe plans. By crea­ting af­fec­tive­ly char­ged as­sem­bla­ges—he­te­ro­ge­neous ac­cu­mu­la­ti­ons—from di­ver­se pop cul­tu­ral ma­te­ri­al, Wolf­s­on makes psy­cho­dy­na­mic pro­ces­ses of the aff­lu­ent ca­pi­ta­list-ori­en­ted so­cie­ty tan­gi­b­le in a par­ti­cu­lar­ly strik­ing man­ner. A two-pron­ged pro­cess bet­ween self-de­ter­mi­na­ti­on and self-de­struc­tion is re­vea­led: In a world full of pos­si­ble choices, an in­di­vi­du­al is ar­ti­cu­la­ted who is torn bet­ween the de­s­i­re for
be­lon­ging and in­ti­ma­cy and the need for iso­la­ti­on and sin­gu­la­ri­ty.

In co­ope­ra­ti­on wi­th the Ju­lia Sto­schek Fo­un­da­ti­on, the per­for­mance Mo­ved by the Mo­ti­on by Wu Tsang and boychild in col­la­bo­ra­ti­on wi­th the cel­list Pa­trick Be­la­ga will ha­ve its Ger­man pre­mie­re on the weekend of the ex­hi­bi­ti­on ope­ning. The per­for­mance will ta­ke place on
Fe­bru­ary 7, 2015 at 8 p.m. in the Ju­lia Sto­schek Collec­tion.

The first mo­no­graphs on Ian Cheng (in con­junc­tion wi­th the “Ka­ta­lo­ge für jun­ge Künst­ler” ad­van­ce­ment pri­ze awar­ded by the Al­fried Krupp von Boh­len und Hal­bach-Stif­tung) and Wu Tsang (in co­ope­ra­ti­on wi­th the Mi­gros Mu­se­um für Ge­gen­warts­kunst Zü­rich) will be pu­blis­hed in April 2015 on the oc­ca­si­on of the ex­hi­bi­ti­on.

Tags: Xu Bing, Ian Cheng, Wu Tsang