Everything that surrounds us becomes part of us, it seeps into us with every experience of the flesh and of life and, like the web of a great Spider, binds us subtly to what is near, ensnares us in a fragile cradle of slow death, where we lie rocking in the wind. Everything is us and we are everything.
The Book of Disquiet, Fernando Pessoa (1988–1935)
TKG+ is pleased to present One Is All, All Is One — Jiang Zhi Solo Exhibition, on view from February 18 to April 16, 2017. The exhibition investigates the mélange of experiences and spiritual struggles endured by the individual in contemporary society, at the same time implying anxieties and desires that drive the collective survival instinct today.
The title “One Is All, All Is One” indicates an interrelationship between the individual and the external world. As the individual who inhabits the world, they experience the collective anxiety and ponder their relationship with the outside world while discerning a difference in their own anguish and others’. The disparate notions that are displayed externally can be traced back to the similar desires of individuals from another era. This perspective echoes the exhibition title in that “all” does not refer to you or me, nor does it designate the collective. Instead, it indicates a relative distance of comprehending and a relative relationship, or it could be considered a speculative process where the subject and the object keep exchanging roles.
Jiang Zhi exposes the illusory externalization of the world through shaping the subject and exploring sensory mechanisms. An idea of the artist thus becomes clear: for the subject, the world lies not without, but within — we and the world intertwine in each moment as one; one is all and all is one. This exhibition embodies all the aforementioned ideas, translating social reality through the personal state of mind. In addition to providing us with an opportunity to think and observe in order to find meaning and direction in the ever-changing reality, this exhibition is also a continuation of the artist’s two other exhibitions Jiang Zhi: All and Jiang Zhi: Predestiny (both 2016), highlighting the power of the subject and the inescapable responsibility for the world.
Rooted in this context, One Is All, All Is One comprises four series that meticulously analyze the interrelationship between the self and the external world. His video work Onward! Onward! Onward! (2006) exemplifies the intense yet obscure collective consciousness and belief in progress in juxtaposing images of leaders relentlessly running forward. Another video work In the Wind (2016) chronicles the perplexities and pains we endure as we move along with the tides of history and personal memories. Photographic work Elegy (2013) instantiates a swan song that resonates with the changing times through images of human skin pierced, hooked, or pulled by tangible threads, creating “light” of a tactile, even agonizing nature. Oil series The world is yours, as well as ours (2014–2016) blends photography, printmaking, oil painting, and digital technology into a new painting style that reexamines how the human being observes the extrinsic world and how we manifest the world that is present.
Jiang Zhi’s work is a clinical analysis of the self and the inner mind, a manifestation of perception through the body after the artist has digested his personal experiences and social phenomena. Instead of specifying hidden social issues, the artist offers a chance to contemplate through immersing the viewer in perceptual transitions. This exhibition allows the viewer to discern unnerving déjà vu that is fabricated by the artist, while pondering the subjective and objective factors that cause the unease, further understanding the individual cocooned in the inextricable web behind his imagery.
Born in Yuanjiang, Hunan Province, China in1971, Jiang Zhi graduated from the China Academy of Art in 1995. He lived temporarily in Shenzhen before moving to Beijing, where he currently lives and works. Jiang Zhi’s practice pivots around such issues as body, gender, and consumer culture, as well as societal incidents. He grew up in the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (now China Academy of Art), the hub of ’85 New Wave, a nationwide avant-garde movement that emerged in China in the mid-1980s. He started out as an experimental novelist before he joined video art movements. Between 1995 and 2005, he worked as a journalist. This experience allowed him to be at the forefront of social change.1
His notable exhibitions include Jiang Zhi: All, OCAT Shenzhen Exhibition Hall A, Shenzhen (2016); That Has Been, and May Be Again, Para Site, Hong Kong (2016), Post-sense Sensibility: Trepidation and Will, Minsheng Art Museum, Beijing (2016); Grain to Pixel — A History of Photography in China, Shanghai Center of Photography, Shanghai (2015); Advance Through Retreat, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai (2014); the 8th International Ink Art Biennale of Shenzhen, Guan Shan Yue Art Museum, Shenzhen (2013); Urban Border: Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism Architecture, Shenzhen (2013); the 9th Shanghai Biennale: Reactivation, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai (2012); and the 4th Guangzhou Triennial: The Unseen, Guangdong Art Museum, Guangzhou (2012).
1 Bao Dong, Jiang Zhi: At the Intersection of Poetics and Sociology