What makes Preston, a small English city with a population of 140,100 have the fastest growth of immigrants from mainland China in the UK? Why does Lancashire, whose county town is Preston, have the nation’s highest number of UFO sightings? In Shezad Dawood’s science fiction film Piercing Brightness, the two interesting facts lead the viewers into the encounters of two Chinese “aliens” who just arrived in Preston, the alien center on earth.
Trailer, a 15-minute experimental piece using footage from the movie, is one of seven dynamic works presented at OCAT Xi’an in British artist, Shezad Dawood’s first solo exhibition in China.
From 1 November 2014 to 26 February 2015, OCT Contemporary Art Terminal in Xi’an (OCAT Xi’an) presents Anthropology of Chance, London-based artist Shezad Dawood’s China debut. The occasion is marked by a complete range of the artist’s recent works; paintings, videos and film installations in various form and materials, linked by a layering of images drawn from anthropology, film, archaeology and the artist’s own childhood. The result is a series of unexpected juxtapositions, which allow for a very open reading of the works and the themes upon which they might centre. OCAT Xi’an is pleased to include two commissions for the exhibition, a major textile piece and a neon installation.
Three of the works incorporate the artist’s signature Saami textile collection from Pakistan, each to different effect. Through Pierced Flesh and Skin of Dreams is a series of five panels suspended from the ceiling to allow equal attention to the front and the back of each textile painting. In The Melancholy Departure of 7669, textiles are used as projection screens to achieve a poetic interweaving with the projected imagery. The large-scale painting Video Avebury is the latest example of the combination of the textile-as-canvas with painting and printing in Dawood’s two-dimensional works.
The moving image is a key area of Dawood’s expression; Anthropology of Chance includes three video installations. The first, New Dream Machine Project, is inspired by a prototype conceived by the Paris-based British artist Brion Gysin together with fellow British computer programmer Ian Sommerville in the experimental aura of 1961. As a kinetic sculpture centred on a combination of sound and light designed to emit hypnotic light waves and stimulate the brain, the Dream Machine was to be seen with the eyes closed. Dawood’s New Dream Machine Project recreates this effect, and pays tribute to Gysin’s time spent in Tangiers, Morocco and the music of Brian Jones, founding member of the Rolling Stones, in collaboration with the contemporary musician Duke Garwood.
The second piece, Trailer, is a dynamic 15-minute alternative reading of Dawood’s feature film Piercing Brightness. Conceived for display in an exhibition space, as opposed to a cinema, Trailer plays with the challenge of showing film works in an art environment. A similar concern underscores Towards the Possible Film, the third work, which is shot on location in Sidi Ifni, Morocco, a site chosen by the artist as a “Martian landscape bearing the legacy of Spanish occupation and contemporary socio-political agitation”. As the original television series Star Trek did in its time, Towards the Possible Film invokes science fiction to consider the clash of civilizations, here between an indigenous culture and the travellers who arrive on their shores.
Dawood’s final piece for Anthropology of Chance is the neon sculpture Elliptical Variations III. For Dawood, neon suggests a meeting point between modernism and mysticism, which he explores using juxtapositions of geometric form and colour in which meaning and structures collide.
About the artist
Shezad Dawood (b.1974, London) trained at Central St Martin’s, the Royal College of Art and Leeds Metropolitan University (PhD). Inspired by his varied culture heritage, his works are particularly concerned with acts of translation and restaging.
Dawood’s work has been exhibited in Altermodern, Tate Britain, 2009; 53rd Venice Biennale, 2009; Busan Biennale, Korea, 2010, Marrakech Biennale, 2014; Taipei Biennale 2014. Solo exhibitions include Modern Art Oxford, UK, 2012 and Parasol Unit, London, 2014. He currently lives and works in London, where he is Senior Lecturer and Research Fellow in Experimental Media at the University of Westminster.
About OCAT Xi’an
OCT Contemporary Art Terminal in Xi’an (OCAT Xi’an) is the latest addition to the OCAT group, which was founded in Shenzhen in 2005. OCAT Xi’an is devoted to contemporary art: its mission is to draw upon local and international resources to promote Chinese contemporary art to an international standard as well as to support a range of cultural exchange programmes in Xi’an.
OCAT Xi’an is three floors, two exhibition areas and one activity centre overseen by a small staff of professional curators and art workers. Our annual programme of local and international exhibitions is open to everyone, whether to discover contemporary art for the first time, or to learn more about artists shaping the contemporary art scene.
About the exhibition
Title: Anthropology of Chance: Shezad Dawood Solo Exhibition
Date: 1 November 2014 – 26 February 2015
Opening: 1 November, 3pm
OCAT Xi’an would like to thank LUX and the Film and Video Umbrella London for their support in this exhibition.
Courtesy of the artist and OCAT Xi’an, for enquiries please contact:
Zhang Lu: 029 85529445 / firstname.lastname@example.org