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Ritual of Repeating Insubstantiality

January 26 – February 9, 2024

Opening Reception: Friday, January 26, 5-8 PM

Chinese American Arts Council, 456 Broadway, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10013

From nighttime skincare routine to daily meal preparation, from second-to-second breathing to annual ancestral veneration ceremonies, human beings are enveloped in rituals of repetition in their most celebratory or minutest form. Embedding the story of repetition with cultural and philosophic perspectives, the exhibition invites the viewers to contemplate their roles in a story of never-ending repetition. As (in)voluntary guardians, documenters, and onlookers of repeating rituals of insubstantiality, Chi Zhang, Crys Yin, and Qiaosen Yang unravel their shared entrapment by convention, habit, context, and time.

Despite their unattainable promise of forever beauty and youth, beauty products emerge as a life necessity worthy of recurring usage. In The Youth Project - Skincare Facial Masks (2018 - ongoing), Chi Zhang presents her used masks, along with their original packaging, as haunting testimony to her ongoing routine of applying facial masks for 15 minutes every night. Collected over five years, Zhang’s masks constitute a series of self-portraits once in contact with, yet now detached from the artist’s body. Zhang also preserves her second-to-second memory of breathing New York City on a given day in her New York City Air Project (2018 - ongoing), where she pairs a sealed bottle of New York’s air with an annotative documentary photograph.

With a sense of nostalgia in the air, Crys Yin’s Untitled No. 1 – 10 (2022) references traditional Chinese ancestral veneration ceremonies while contemplating individuals as the (un)conscious inheritors of long-lasting rituals. After experiencing several passings during the pandemic, Yin revives and represents her childhood ritual of burning joss sticks as offerings in grief. While the lighting and refilling of incense signify a prospering sustenance of lifeline (香火 in Chinese), its fate of ephemerality parallels the cyclical nature of individual narratives. Yin’s The Red Group, Everything is Exactly the Same (2019) also illustrates a juncture where individuality collapses into a vortex of sameness.

In the monolithic face of time, are repetitions reduced to movements of futility? Qiaosen Yang's sculptures transform the supposedly hefty ceremonial objects into a fleeting collective of motion, symbolic of the passage of time. Both grasped and ungraspable by the everyday repetitive structure, collective cultural memories and traditions transport themselves into fleeting motions and individual histories. As its titular phrase suggests, Yang's Another End in the Looping (循環中的另一個端點) stands as an abstract representation of time's inexorable flow, repeating people’s memories and desires.

By re-enacting and re-examining events of repetition, the exhibition embraces repetition in its fullest form. As the most disposable and ephemeral materials (facial masks, incense, air) seep through our everyday repetitive structure, they speak to both the existential mundanity and significance of human experiences.

About the artists:

Qiaosen Yang (b.1995, Kunming, China), an artist and designer of Chinese Bai ethnicity, is based in Brooklyn, New York. He earned his BFA in graphic design from the University of Central Missouri in 2018 and recently completed his MFA in studio art with a focus on sculpture at Pratt Institute in 2023. Grounded in tradition, Qiaosen learned the craft of traditional metal forging from the esteemed Mr. Huazao Wang, an inheritor of intangible cultural heritage in China. In China, Qiaosen has been awarded the "Golden Phoenix" arts and crafts national exhibition's National Golden Reward by The Chinese Arts and Crafts Institute. He was also invited by The China Academy of Art to participate in the Asia Design Forum as a visiting scholar designer. Since his move to New York, Qiaosen Yang's work has been showcased in various institutions and galleries, including the 2023 Spring Break Art Show, Westbeth Gallery, Ely Center of Contemporary Art, Agora, and Black Brick Project Gallery. Qiaosen's work has been featured by The Poetry Society of New York, Dovetail Magazine, and Hyperallergic. Currently, Qiaosen Yang holds the positions of Academic Secretary of the Yunnan Graphic Designer Association and Gallery Coordinator at Black Brick Project.

Crys Yin is an artist based in New York. Her paintings, drawings, and sculptures tell stories of mis/connections and find contentment in both the banality and absurdity of humanness. Through the distortion of scale and skewing of perspectives, along with a compulsive tendency towards repetition, she depicts worlds that exist just a smidgen off-kilter. Her paintings, drawings, and sculptures have been exhibited at FLAG Art Foundation, the Chinese American Museum, Adam Baumgold Gallery, Fisher Parrish, LVL3, amongst others. She has also participated in fellowships with Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop (New York), A.I.R. (New York), ProjectArt (New York), Shandaken Paint School (New York), The Lighthouse Works (New York), ACRE (Wisconsin), Ox-Bow (Michigan) and The Lower East Side Printshop (New York). She was most recently a participant at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine.

Chi Zhang (b. 1988, Beijing, China) is a visual artist, art educator, and art professional formerly based in New York, who currently lives and works in Beijing and Shanghai, China. Zhang received her MFA in Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York (2013) and her BA in Studio Art from Stony Brook University (2010). Chi Zhang's multidisciplinary practice encompasses installation, painting, drawing, and documentary of daily activity, all of which revolve around personal narratives and perceptions influenced by diverse social contexts. In an increasingly complex and tumultuous social climate, Zhang's art seeks to examine the pursuit of inner peace and the beauty of emptiness, while also fostering meaningful conversations and connections beyond the confines of the artwork itself. Through this exploration of the human experience, Zhang aims to offer a unique perspective on contemporary society and inspire viewers to look inward and outward with greater empathy and understanding. Her works have been exhibited in the United States and China. Zhang also participated in the Pantocrator Gallery Summer Artist Residency, Shanghai, China; NARS Foundation International Artist Residency, Brooklyn, New York, US; and was accepted into The Association of Icelandic Visual Artists (SÍM) in Reykjavik, Iceland and GlogauAIR Artist in Residence, Berlin, Germany.


從每晚的護膚到每日的備餐,從每分每秒的呼吸到一年一度的祭祀儀式,人無時無刻不在循環往復的儀式感中,無論宏大或微小。本次展覽藉由文化和哲學的視角,意在剖析生命的重複性,並邀請觀衆一起審視無處不在的重複的日常。本次展覽彙集了張弛、尹懷(Crys Yin)和楊喬森的作品,展現了他們作爲無數個重複性儀式的自覺或不自覺的的堅守者、記錄者和旁觀者,困於各自的傳統、習慣、環境和時間。

儘管美容產品永葆美麗和青春的許諾難以實現,它們卻成爲人們反覆使用的生活必需品。張弛的作品《年輕項目 - 護膚面膜 (The Youth Project - Skincare Facial Masks)》(2018 - 至今)展示了藝術家使用過的面膜以及它們的原始包裝,併成爲了她每晚十五分鐘例行護膚流程的縈繞往復的見證。藝術家五年間持續收集的面膜構成了一系列獨特的自畫像,訴說着與藝術家的身體相觸相離的時光。在她的作品《紐約市空氣記憶 (New York City Air Project )》中,張弛將罐裝封存的紐約的空氣與註釋性的紀實照片配對,以此記錄她對某一天紐約市空氣的呼吸體驗 。

呼吸着懷舊的空氣,尹懷(Crys Yin)創作的《無題 (Untitled No. 1 – 10)》系列取材於中國傳統的祖先祭祀儀式,探討了個體是如何成爲悠久儀式的(無)意識繼承者。在幾位親人於疫情期間離世後,藝術家決定重現她幼年參與祭祀時看到的熠熠香燭,以奠逝者。雖然對於國人而言,香火的長明象徵着生命的長榮,迅速燃盡的線香卻如時間洪流中的個體般,稍縱易逝。尹懷的另一個作品《紅組,所有事物都完全一致 (The Red Group, Everything is Exactly the Same)》則呈現了事物存續的個體性和同質性在一點交匯的景象。

楊喬森的雕塑將本應沉重的祭祀器具轉化爲瞬息萬變的運動光點,象徵着時間的流逝匆匆。他的作品賦予了歷史的源流悅動的輕靈,展示了集體記憶和文化傳統被日常的重複性或馴化捕捉,或呈個體逸散的瞬間。正如其標題所示,楊喬森的作品《循環中的另一個端點 (Another End in the Looping)》象徵着時間不可阻擋的流逝,往復翻湧着人們的記憶和慾望。



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