Going Outside: Kunlin He and Yi Xin Tong
Sep 6 — Oct 13, 2018
Check gallery website for hours and additional info
Going Outside is a duo exhibition of work by Kunlin He (b. 1992, Nanchang, China; lives San Francisco, CA) and Yi Xin Tong (b. 1988, Lushan, China; lives Brooklyn, NY). These two exceptionally talented artists blend a variety of art genres from experimental documentary, music video and tapestry, to drone imagery, graffiti and Shan Shui drawing into expansive multi-media presentations. Their narrative and conceptual references are fluid, open-ended, transcultural and transhistorical. He’s and Tong’s resolve to find their own way and resist systems of control is bolstered by examples from the distant Chinese past: from the Xiaoxiang poetry and painting that pictured a retreat from civic life as an act of disagreement with the policies of the governing powers; to the benefits of reclusion, such as a solitary fisherman seeking solace in his boat, representative of the Confucian practice of withdrawal as a moral objection to the status quo. Yet, while there are layers of distancing in these works, there is also a deep desire to participate in a generation hyper-connected to the pulse of global culture—especially current theories on ecology and vernacular forms of youth media. Their work’s hybrid and collage aesthetic reveal qualities of agency and subjectivity born from the realities of their lives in the USA, and nurtured by childhood memories in China.
He and Tong strive towards liberation from constraints in very contemporary forms—with special attention to creating images of documented and invented landscapes marred by human interventions yet still regenerative and alive. Incorporating new digital technologies of the gaze into his explorations of the environment, He overlays fictions onto GPS-oriented scenes of place from the fire-destroyed semi-rural neighborhoods of California’s Marin County to a fictional biographical tour of his home town. Tong’s digital images document his new fascination for the fishing culture at little known sites along the shores of New York City. In both cases unruly, marginal and ravaged natural sites become symbols for the challenges of life’s journey. He’s and Tong’s works, while filled with feelings of displacement and a yearning to go outside and explore, refuse to give up on a sense of cultural belonging.
This exhibition is curated by Betti-Sue Hertz.