Whence Do You Know the Happiness Of Fish? Kunstkraftwerk Leipzig installation view, 2015
P’eng’s Journey to the Southern Darkness (南冥有鳥, 其名為鵬) (2016)
By Ting-Tong Chang
Tuesday 23 August – Friday 2 September 2016, closing at 15.00 on 2 September.
The exhibition will be open Tuesday – Friday 10.00 – 18.00, closed on Bank Holiday Monday 29 August
Supported by Ministry of Culture (Taiwan)
The private view of the exhibition took place on Monday 22 August.
P’eng’s Journey to the Southern Darkness is the first London solo exhibition by Taiwanese artist Ting-Tong Chang, whose work concerns the ecological relationship that humans and nature have with each other through the mediation of machines, from automata to avatars.
The title of the exhibition derives from influential Daoist philosopher Zhuangzi’s text Free and Easy Wandering (逍遙遊) in which a fish in the North Ocean turns into a giant bird and sets to travel to the South Ocean, whilst a cicada (insect that makes a buzzing noise) and a dove ridicule him for attempting this. As in Zhuangzi’s story, Chang’s durational performances and his contemporary automata anthropomorphise other subjects which include fish, caterpillars, mosquitoes and crows.
In P’eng’s Journey to the Southern Darkness four kinetic sculptures of crows on elevated plinths and a collection of taxidermy birds, with internal computer circuits in their stomachs exposed, together announce failures of the artist by pronouncing rejection letters from numerous open calls to which he has applied. The number and the type of bird signify death in Chinese traditions and Chang playfully questions the proliferating bureaucratic art world in which contemporary artists find themselves.
The birds are surrounded by film documentation of various representative performances; for each piece, the artist collaborated with scientists and engineers to create a self-sustaining ecology within which Ting-Tong Chang integrated himself by living on nothing else but fish [Whence Do You Know the Happiness of Fish? (2015)] and caterpillars [Spodoptera Litura (2015)], or provided his own blood to feed mosquitoes [Second Life: Habitat (2016)] and the dead ones turn into avatars in an adjacent computer to be played by exhibition visitors.
Presented together with these works is a series of drawings Chang created whilst he confined himself in these self-torturing ecosystems. The illustrations unfold his cynical yet comical imagination of the Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest ecology of the ‘artworld’ he has taken part in over the past decade as a migrant from Asia in London.
The video below was made during Chang’s large-scale installation at Kunstkraftwerk in Leipzig in which the artist constructed an indoor fish farming environment to explore the interrelationship of consumption, industrial production and the ecosystem.
Other events to coincide with this exhibition
Wednesday 31 August, 18.45 – 20.00
Free, booking essential
Mechanical Marvels: Clockwork Dreams (2013)
Film screening, 60 min
One of Ting-Tong Chang’s inspirations, the documentary presented by Professor Simon Schaffer, charts the amazing and untold story of automata – beginning with extraordinary clockwork machines designed hundreds of years ago to mimic and recreate life.
We are grateful to the Ministry of Culture (Taiwan) for their generous support.
With thanks to Zabludowicz Collection for equipment support.