New Directions: Tao Hui

Ullens Center for Contemporary Art

2015.8.21 - 2015.10.19 Long Gallery

On August 21,the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) presents “New Directions: Tao Hui,” a solo exhibition composed of three works, new and existing, that through narrative structure and performance take viewers on an emotionally charged journey to an otherworldly realm.

In the multi-channel video installation Excessive, Tao Hui again draws viewers in with a narrative of conflict. A young girl’s extra finger causes enormous grief in her family, leading her to cut it off with a kitchen knife and burn it to ashes. Here, Tao Hui eliminates the backdrop of each scene, leaving only the characters with a few props. This technique brings emphasis to the actors within the piece.

In the exhibition space, Tao Hui leaves a decorative box housing the ashes of the incinerated finger with a screen at the back projecting the act of the burning. These physical annotations allow the artworks to transgress the virtual into the real.

Filmed in an abandoned building The Acting Tutorial convenes a troupe of amateur actors in the rehearsal of extreme scenarios—a violent break up, a house fire, intense labor pain. Under the teacher’s cool direction, their howls and hysteria are a cathartic exercise reminiscent of the Moreno school of psychotherapy.

As the narrative continues, imaginative limits are breached and a brutal reality is exposed as the actors viciously burn a fallen comrade. Here Tao Hui uses a low budget means to achieve the effect, drawing attention to the scene’s artifice.

In 1 Character & 7 Materials, viewers can use wireless headphones to listen to an exhausted narrator retell her life’s story. Fleeing her small village for the city, the young woman, in spite of her tenacity, gradually grows nostalgic. A torrid love affair with her music student results in one child and a failed marriage. Unable to bear the consequences, she ends her life on the banks of a river. Tao Hui here places an empty pavilion in the exhibition space equipped with a microphone hinting that the recording of her “real life” experiences eventuated in her premeditated end.

A large screen toggles among disparate and outlandish narrative scenes, including a group of ethnic minorities standing in a grave during a storm, a corpse interviewer, and an immortal riding a yacht at the center of a river. The juxtaposition of these images plays on the viewer’s imagination in an installation that through video and sound creates an immersive psychological experience.

Ullens Center for Contemporary Art
Credits: Story

New Directions: Tao Hui, the second installment of the New Directions series, is accompanied by a monograph supported by Post Wave Publishing Consulting with essays contributed by Yang Zi and Chen Yichen among others. The new media art production partner is CP Denmark and WTi Group. Exclusive sponsorship of sound equipment comes from GENELEC.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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