13th August - 16th October 2022
YAN ZHOU : THE LAST TWIST OF THE KNIFE
Hunsand Center for Contemporary Art (Shijiazhuang) will bring the artist Yan Zhou's solo project "The Last Twist of the Knife" on August 13, 2022. The exhibition will present the latest video and sculpture works created by the artist.
In recent years, Yan Zhou has taken the sensitive reality of today's art practitioners as a starting point, and by introducing an examination of the history and culture of medieval China, especially by re-citing archaeological relics, historical materials and historical notebook novels, he has developed an imagination of events and changes in history, and thus expects to provide a certain tentative response to today's urgent reality, trying to provide new historical "evidence "and "narrative" paths for today. This exhibition is the latest chapter in this practice, focusing on the Hebei region of medieval China. The wandering borders of the Chinese Empire crossed this area, which was both the scene of civilizational exchange and a zone frequently involved ethnic disagreements and entanglements, and where complex geopolitical dynamics brewed internal and external concerns and choices of rebellion.
The exhibition revolves around the dreams of one of the most pivotal rebels of medieval China (An Lushan) on the night before his execution. Several places where characters from historical fiction interacted are inserted into his dream, creating a vision of a dream within a dream. In the dream, he meets the "Snowy Lady," a parrot that, like a ghost of history, recalls distant events to the forefront, haunting the rebel in the vortex of change. His emotional monologue in this dream tells of everything that happened at that time, while revealing his legendary life and doubts about his image as the "Hercules".
In the exhibition, the artist conducts a two-way examination of the historical field and its possible connection to the reality: he draws from the resemblance between the present and the past to construct an imaginary "edifice" and stares at the moment when it is about to fall. A kind of uneasiness hidden in the present pervades the work. Through the action of "re-copying" or "topo-graphing" history, the artist reactivates the flattened, vague memories of China's distant history in this domain in our consciousness, and summons the "edifice" that is about to collapse. The artist revitalizes the flattened memories of China's distant past in this field of our consciousness, and calls up the double of the falling "building" and its ruins behind.
The title of the exhibition comes from T. S. Eliot's "Rhapsody on a Windy Night," a poem that repeatedly confuses memory and reality through a continuous progression of temporal notations. Underneath the seemingly everyday atmosphere of the poem, there is an accumulating "unease". The street scenes and smells under the streetlights gradually unfold, while memories keep surfacing and becoming clear. At the end of the poem, with the turning key of memory, the ordinary scenes of life are suddenly and violently interrupted by the "The Last Twist of the Knife".
Yan Zhou，born in 1986 in Xi'an, currently works and lives in Beijing.
Through the language of photography, video and writing, Yan observes and dialogues with today's cultural ecology and the situation of practitioners. His works for the current social environment are deeply rooted in his visits to and imagination of the cultural drive and situations constituted by historical places, cultural relics and people.