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Exhibition Opening: P'eng’s Journey to the Southern DarknessTing-Tong Chang
Mon 22 August 2016, 18:00 – 20:00 BST
P'eng’s Journey to the Southern Darkness (南冥有鳥, 其名為鵬) (2016)
Monday 22 August – Friday 2 September 2016
Opening hours: Monday - Friday 9.00 - 17.30, closed on Bank Holiday Monday 29th August
Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street, London W1G 7LP
Supported by Ministry of Culture (Taiwan)
Private View: Monday 22 August, 18.00 - 20.00
Press contact: Eiko Honda
P'eng’s Journey to the Southern Darkness is the first London solo exhibition of Taiwanese artist Ting-Tong Chang, whose work concerns the ecological relationship of humans and nature through the mediation of self-designed machines, from automata to avatars.
The title of the exhibition derives from influential Daoist philosopher Zhuangzi’s text Free and Easy Wandering (逍遙遊) in which a fish in the North Ocean turns into a giant bird and sets to travel to the South Ocean, whilst a cicada and a dove ridicule him for attempting this. As in Zhuangzi’s story, Chang’s durational performances and his contemporary automata anthropomorphise other self-generating subjectivities which include fish, caterpillars, mosquitoes and crows.
In P'eng’s Journey to the Southern Darkness four kinetic sculptures of crows on elevated plinths and a collection of taxidermy birds, with internal computer circuits in their stomachs exposed, together announce failures of the artist by pronouncing rejection letters from numerous open calls to which he has applied. Whilst the number and type of bird signify death in Chinese tradition, Chang playfully questions the proliferating bureaucratic art world in which contemporary artists find themselves.
The birds are surrounded by film documentation of various representative performances; for each piece, the artist collaborated with scientists and engineers to create a self-sustaining ecology within which he integrated himself by living on nothing else but fish [Whence Do You Know the Happiness of Fish? (2015)] and caterpillars [Spodoptera Litura (2015)], or provided his own blood to feed mosquitoes [Second Life: Habitat (2016)] where dead ones turn into avatars in an adjacent computer to be played by exhibition visitors.
Presented together with these works is a series of drawings Chang created whilst he confined himself in these self-torturing ecosystems. Depicted illustrations unfold his cynical yet comical imagination of the Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest ecology of the ‘artworld’ he has taken part in over the past decade as a foreign migrant from Asia.
Wednesday 24 August, 18.45 - 20.00
Artist’s talk, followed by Q&A and a screening of interview with Professor Simon Schaffer
Free, booking required --
Ting-Tong Chang will discuss the process and ideas behind the making of his work. The talk will be followed by a screening of a conversation between Ting-Tong Chang and Professor Simon Schaffer, the renowned historian of science, about the history of automatons in Europe, the artist’s work, and its contemporary relevance.
Wednesday 31 August, 18.45 - 20.00
Mechanical Marvels: Clockwork Dreams (2013)
Film screening, 60 min.
Free, booking required[LT1]
One of Ting-Tong Chang’s inspirations, the documentary presented by Professor Simon Schaffer charts the amazing and untold story of automata - extraordinary clockwork machines designed hundreds of years ago to mimic and recreate life.
The artist’s first monograph will be published at the end of September to coincide with the solo exhibition in London. The publication includes an essay by Yuk Hui, the philosopher of technology, an interview with Professor Simon Schaffer and documentations of Chang’s key works. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to pre-order your copy.
Following the exhibition at Asia House, there will be an installation intervention at Goldsmiths, University of London, in September and the second part of the solo exhibition at Christine Park Gallery in October. Details to be shortly announced here: http://web.roc-taiwan.org/uk_en/index.html