Zheng Yuan: Forward, Backward

Sep 30, 2020 - Nov 1, 2020 Solo Exhibition

Opening: Sep 30, 2020 16:00 Wednesday
Artists: ZHENG Yuan
Address: MadeIn Gallery
MadeIn Gallery is delighted to present artist Zheng Yuan's solo exhibition: "Forward, Backward" on September 30th, 2020. "Forward, Backward" is the artist's first solo exhibition in the gallery, as well as the first presentation of the final chapter for the “China Northwest Airlines” project, which has been the main focus of Zheng's work since 2017.

Working primarily with time-based media, Zheng Yuan's work often operates at the intersection of fiction, documentary, essay, and investigative studies. His practice focuses on identity and evaluation and it’s ever-shifting relationship with history, power and representation. By introducing archival material, found footage and situations Zheng’s work acquires an interleaved complexity within imbricated contexts.

Since 2017, the artist has carried out complex and in-depth investigations starting with the “China Northwest Airlines” project. The core of this project is to revisit and rethink about contemporary China’s tremendous changes in the fields of economic reforms, diplomatic relations and geopolitics as well as the complex relationship between the subject and its external, during the time period from China’s Reform and Opening Up to joining the World Trade Organization, by using the history of civil aviation in China since 1950s as a clue perspective. From here, the artist continues to create and completes a number of works with different aspects and threads, including single-channel videos: A Brief History of China Northwest Airlines (2018), which investigates the assets of China Northwest Airlines (1989-2002), a short-lived airline company after its bankruptcy; A Failed Flight: Jiuquan Airport (2018), which is a revisit to the “Jiuquan Airport”, a relic of the briefly-existed historical period “China-Soviet Civilian Airlines”.

The exhibition will present two of Zheng’s latest works, The Last Step of Touch Down and Then What Have You Done in Your Entire Life?. As the finale of the “China Northwest Airlines” project, the two works will be displayed on the four large screens in the exhibition space.

The Last Step of Touch Down refers to the first step of walking down the gangway of an aircraft, and stepping onto the territory of another country. As the last step of the landing process, this moment also symbolizes the first step of establishing diplomacy. Therefore “the first step” was given special meaning and is always recorded by camera entirely. The last step of Touch Down includes a series of footages of national leaders, ambassadors and visiting delegations walking down from aircrafts, and extends from this action to the history of China's politics, diplomacy and the imported technology under the situation back then. This work focuses on the two stages of China intensively accepting foreign technologies: the first Five-Year Plan from 1953 to 1957 to fully accept the technical assistance from the Soviet Union; and the technology transfer from the west to China after Nixon's visit to China in 1972, under the background of sanctioning the Soviet Union. The work focuses on the history of the introduction of aviation technology and media technology in china, which played an important role in the process of globalization.

In Then What Have You Done in Your Entire Life?, shows the 40 years of career and the process of role transformation of the first two recipients and practitioners, who started working in the 1970s. Their experiences and consciousness have been greatly shaped by “the last step", therefore their images and words are also permeated among the footages of The Last Step of Touch Down. The two works have their own independent narratives and yet are intertwined with one another.

In order to present the artist’s “China Northwest Airlines” project in its integrity, the gallery will hold screening event for the other two works, A Brief History of China Northwest Airlines and A Failed Flight: Jiuquan Airport; and organize artist lectures and talks as well during the exhibition period.
  • The Last Step of Touch Down

    Video | Three-channel video installation, B/W, color, stereo sound | 01:04:00 | 2020

  • Then What Have You Done in Your Entire Life?

    Video | Two-channel video installation, B/W, color, stereo sound | 01:04:31 | 2020