“[...] the music and atmosphere carry the dancers as they search for their dream. But in the end, the club makes everyone the same. You can't go against the crowd.”
——Chen Wei (Guardian, April 30th 2014)
LEO XU PROJECTS is pleased to present in its Frieze London booth a solo exhibition of Beijing-based young artist Chen Wei and selected works from his three-year long project that has explored China’s youth cultures evolved around the sphere of dance music and club cultures since the early 1990s onwards.
Internationally active and representative of his generation, Chen Wei is particularly known for his photographs composed of carefully handcrafted objects and architectures, and meticulously staged mise-en-scène that blur the boundaries between realities and cinema, landscapes and dreamscapes. Informed by the 20th century’s cinematically staged photography, Chen has introduced a layer of simplicity of theatric stage design and painterly sensibility to the photographic repertoire. Subjects of object/product design, choreography, music and print publication, as well as architecture have always been Chen Wei’s interests, which, after carefully studied by the artist, have grown into various series and forms, which come into play in the booth, ranging from fluorescent tubes, mirrored walls, archival inkjet prints, and artist books.
Embracing the locality of mainland China, the word “disco” has morphed into an overarching term, which is telling of the cultural translation of a seemingly simplification process, a media spectacle behind which hides complicated politics. In the 90s mainland China, “disco” has for the first time in history provided people with a dark space where they could be “free”, whilst the seemingly liberating bodies are also confined within the realm of night life, where everyone is subject to the rules of the circumstances and ends up behaving like everyone else. Intrigued by the dialectics and the unique visuals of such culture of a phase he missed out, Chen is dedicated to reconstructing such happenings and initiating the conversations around it.
The booth would be fronted with the work History of Enchantment – Untitled Song, which consists of fluorescent tubes lit up in a dark mirrored space. Hang on the walls would be staged portraits of adolescents after the parties. Marked by a strong sense of solitude and even a state of emotional limbo, the photographs feature club interiors from various walls, floors, to stairs, and deliberate studies on human bodies and bodily expressions in rave parties. These up-close pictures are accompanied by a selection of large-scale photographs that translate the architecture of club into monumental institutions of youth cultures and transport young raver dancers in apocalyptic lights. One will also find reading table from the library, covered by collages of this series of works, serving as a fake archive. Together, the works present Chen Wei’s latest attempt in photography as a medium, and transcribe the “Chinese disco” to Frieze London.