Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Qiu Zhijie: Breaking Through the Ice

This installation, which was shown at UCCA in Beijing, is massive in its scale and ambition.  Upon walking into the space, one cannot help but be overwhelmed by its size and ability to completely envelope the viewer.  However, when entering this exhibition, one no longer remains the viewer but becomes a participant.  The individual is left to wander through the hull of a gigantic ship, obsessing over the impressive intricate details, while trying to piece together the larger puzzle that speaks on the modernization of China and remembering the hardships and troubles of its past.

This installation was probably the most impressive and complete exhibition that I had seen during my few months in China.  It is able to balance a dense amount of information with the space it gives to the viewer.  All the pieces are distributed through the space in a way that allows the viewer to explore without being bombarded with an overwhelming amount of data.  Qiu Zhijie considers every inch of the space, from the floor, to the walls, and the shape and feel of the room.  The curvature of the upper walls fits seamlessly with the thick wooden barricades that resemble the belly of an old and massive ship.  The space is also contained but opened to the point where the ceiling seems to disappear.  I was able to see this exhibition at two separate occasions (during the week of its opening and closing) and each time was just as exciting, full of new discoveries and insights. 


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