Tianzhuo Chen

Exhibition view, Tianzhuo Chen, THE DUST, Kunstpavillon, 2022. Photo: Daniel Jarosch

Tianzhuo Chen
curated by Petra Poelzl

Once upon a time, I, Zhuangzi, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither
and thither, a veritable butterfly, enjoying itself to the full of its bent, and
not knowing it was Zhuangzi. Suddenly I awoke, and came to myself, the
veritable Zhuangzi. Now I do not know whether it was then I dreamt I
was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man.
Between the butterfly and me there must be a difference. This is an
instance of transformation.
Zhuangzi (philosopher and poet, 4th century BC)
Wu, Kuang-Ming: The Butterfly as Companion: Meditations on the First Three Chapters of the Chuang Tzu, State University of New York Press (1990)

TIANZHUO CHEN is one of the most exciting and provocative representatives of the young art scene in China. He switches deftly between dance, performance, music, visual art, the internet, club and pop culture. His enigmatically immersive and performative installations question belief systems in the post-internet era; they are animated by creatures that seem to be constantly transforming, in a state of in-between. Chen‘s artistic practice aims to generate states rather than narratives. The Dust creates an experiential space meandering through the Kunstpavillon: droning soundscapes, flaming imagery, terrestrial materials and a giant heart from which a smiling worm appears. Campy bricolage permeated by fragmented symbolisms, located between spiritual and virtual reality, hallucinating intoxication: this is a disturbing kaleidoscope of digital image floods, consumerism and transcendence.

The concept of hyperculturality, coined by Byung-Chul Han, seems a coherent term in the context of Chen‘s artistic working method. Han describes a hypertextually composed world consisting of numerous windows (in the sense of selectable possibilities), in which none of the windows opens up an absolute horizon. What the cultural scientist calls windowing means gliding from one window to another, from one possibility to the next. This overlapping and interpenetration of cultural spaces also results in changes to religion and art.

The horizon disintegrates, and this results in a hypercultural juxtaposition of different belief systems from which a new religion can emerge, and from which art draws its colours and forms. This kind of patchwork offers the starting point for the artistic practice of Tianzhuo Chen, who is undoubtedly a child of the internet. He associates freely between the browser tabs of his brain, embracing the act of windowing and using the online material as glue to assemble his contemporary deities and relics.

TIANZHUO CHEN studied art and design in London and currently lives and works in Beijing. The artist uses his extensive knowledge
of religious symbolism, urban subculture, pop culture and dance to create atmospheric rituals within which the participants are intended to enter a transcendental state of madness. He is as welcome at London Fashion Week as he is at Berghain in Berlin. Recent solo exhibitions include The Dust (Dark Mofo, Hobart, Tasmenia, 2021 / transmediale Berlin 2022), The Shepherd (Kyoto Experiment, Kyoto, Japan, 2022), Trance (M Woods Museum, Peking, 2019), Ghost (Kunsthalle Winterthur, Winterthur, 2017), Ishvara (Long March Space, Beijing, 2016) and Tianzhuo Chen (Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2015). Recent theatre shows include Trance (Kampnagel Hamburg, Hamburg, 2022), An Atypical Brain Damage (steirischer herbst, Graz, 2018 and others) and Ishvara (Wiener Festwochen, Wien, 2017 and others). In 2023, Trance is going to be presented at Komische Oper Berlin., Instagram: asian_dope_boys

Exhibition booklet

The Dust is part of the exhibition series Dancing at the Edge of the World curated by Petra Poelzl.
Saturday | 11.06.2022 | 7 p.m.

15.06.2022 – 23.07.2022