This summer, Nottingham Contemporary presents a major solo exhibition by Wu Tsang.
Berlin-based artist Wu Tsang’s installations, performances, sculptures and videos move fluidly between documentary and fiction. Titled “Devotional Document”, this exhibition will be the artist’s first solo show in the UK, and brings together two film installations and a video: Duilian (2016), Damelo Todo/Odot Olemad (2010/14), and Shape of a Right Statement (2008). Together these films evoke performative states of impossibility, whether it be through imagined histories, unrecognized languages, or narratives of dispossession.
Duilian is inspired by the life and writings of Chinese revolutionary poet Qiu Jin, a revolutionary martyr of the early twentieth century. Tsang’s narrative is set on a colonial junk boat off the shores of Hong Kong island, floating between the past and present, and between culturally disparate ‘Chinese’ identities. The film interweaves collaboratively translated poetry, performance and a remarkably theatrical martial art called wushu. Damelo Todo was filmed in Los Angeles, where Tsang lived for the past decade, in a bar called the Silver Platter. For over 50 years, the Silver Platter has been a meeting place for several generations of queer and trans communities, often immigrants and political refugees from Central America. It was where, in 2008, Tsang started to co-host a weekly club night called Wildness. Damelo Todo tells the story of Salvadorian teenager named Teódulo Mejía, who came to LA fleeing his country’s civil war.
For Tsang the relationship between the cinematic and the social is inherently problematic, and her filmmaking becomes a testing ground for collaboration and repeated, perhaps ritualistic, refusals of representation. To quote Tsang in her ongoing dialog with writer Fred Moten: “These devotional practices [of filmmaking] seek passage to our sociality through impossible or unavailable images.”
Image credit: Wu Tsang, Duilian, 2016. HD-video, color, sound,Duration: 20min loop.Dimensions variable.Courtesy the artist, Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin. Commissioned and produced by Spring Workshop. With Co-comissioners Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève für for BIM 2016; ArtHub Asia; Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art. With the support of Nottingham Contemporary