Just in time for Hong Kong’s art month, Xu Zhen’s In Just a Blink of an Eye, which features a human figure suspended in mid-air, will be making its Hong Kong debut at the Victoria Dockside cultural-retail destination.
TEXT: CoBo Editorial
IMAGES: Courtesy of K11 MUSEA
Born in Shanghai in 1977, Chinese multidisciplinary artist Xu Zhen is considered a leading figure of China’s contemporary art scene, with a conceptually driven practice that ranges from installations and videos to paintings and performances. His works, at times brow-raising, employs humour and sarcasm that are sometimes sprinkled with elements of optical illusion.
Xu’s In Just a Blink of an Eye (2005/2021) is one of the best-known works of his conceptual practice. First presented in 2005 in Beijing, the installation features a human figure that appears suspended mid-fall by means kept out of the visible eye—for hours at a time.
The artwork has been featured previously in esteemed institutions including Switzerland’s Fondation Beyeler in 2014, and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in 2019, as well as in New York’s Performa Biennial in 2007. Most recently, the work was featured in the March 2020 edition of US Vogue, featuring a photo of Billie Eilish recreating the gravity-defying act. Just in time for Hong Kong’s art month, In Just a Blink of an Eye will be presented in the city for the very first time, available on view at Hong Kong’s cultural-retail destination, K11 MUSEA, from 18 through 23 May.
In Just a Blink of an Eye plays with the notion of the body as material, and in turn questions the materiality of the body in relation to the physical and cognitive limits of human beings. The viewers—as they try to make sense of the artwork and anticipate the slightest movement—are also unconsciously taking part in the act, as their attention to the artwork is taken into question. As time and stillness continues to stretch infinitely through this “living sculpture”, viewers find themselves questioning the state of this constructed reality as the human figures are stuck in a state of limbo between space and time. In a previous iteration, Xu invited members of marginalised communities, such as migrant workers, to take part in the artwork and undertake the performance. In this instance, the act of suspension becomes a metaphor for the fragility of their social status.
In addition to his art practice, Xu also plays an active role in the development and promotion of China’s art scene. In 2006, he was part of the initiation of Art-Ba-Ba (www.art-ba-ba.com), a leading online forum for the discussion and critique of contemporary art in Shanghai. In 2009, Xu founded MadeIn Company—playing off the phrase “Made in China”—a contemporary art creation company that focuses on the production of creativity and the research of contemporary culture. In 2013, the company launched its flagship art brand, XU ZHEN®, that led the company to expand into curatorial production, research and publications. In 2014, MadeIn Company also established MadeIn Gallery and launched the first “Xu Zhen Store” in Shanghai in 2016.
Xu Zhen: In Just a Blink of an Eye Installation 18 – 23 May
Sculpture Park, 6/F, K11 MUSEA