Screens come down in Prada art exhibition
Prada is presenting the exhibition "Paraventi: 屏" at Rong Zhai, a 1918 historic residence in downtown Shanghai that was restored by Prada and reopened in 2017.
The folding screens in the exhibit embody the concept of liminality and the idea of being on the threshold of two conditions, literally and metaphorically, crossing barriers between different disciplines, cultures, and worlds.
In the 19th century, before the emergence of mechanical image processing techniques, screens were primarily used as protective elements rather than a means of visibility.
Today, the contrast between revelation and concealment is most evident in the screens of electric devices, which are simultaneously opaque and transparent windows.
While screen images can provide us with virtual, in-depth access to archives and databases, they also conceal the inner workings of hardware, producing an ambiguous relationship between surface and depth.
The Shanghai exhibition includes two ancient Chinese folding screens from the 17th and 18th centuries – respectively a small standing screen intended for a desk and a 12-panel imperial screen. The space has a sequence of rooms hosting five newly commissioned works by international artists including Tony Cokes, John Stezaker, Li Shuang, Tsang Wu, and Cao Fei.
Cokes' "Untitled (Sol Lewitt 1967/1968/1989)" is inspired by the American minimalist artist Lewitt's work "Folding Screen."
Cokes inserts concentric circles, colored on one side and black and white on the other, in a complex sculpture-like composition. He adds "an affective layer, register, or zone of possibility" to his installation's textual and visual elements featuring LED video walls and a music track by Irish-English rock band My Bloody Valentine.
Stezaker's "Screen-screen" evokes cinema imagery, introducing an idealized Hollywood domestic scene within a real space that preserves the elements of a private house. In his new work, Stezaker moves between the tangible dimension of a folding screen and the imaginary space of a movie screen.
Li's "This Mirror Isn't Big Enough For The Two Of Us" explores the notion of intimacy by projecting moving shadows on a screen.
These ephemeral traces of a bodily presence are associated with an ordinary object like a bench that reveals a profound desire for a safe and familiar environment. The artwork seeks to emphasize the significance of corporeal value in contrast to the virtual offered by screens, a relationship that the artist believes has been reversed in modern times.
Tsang's work "Carmen sketch (encantada)" deals with the performative nature of the folding screen and the idea of the screen as a symbolic limit or emotional boundary.
A filmed performance by London-based producer, DJ and singer-songwriter Carrie Stacks is projected onto a curtain-like structure. In the video, the performer appears in a flashy gold dress, plays the piano, and sings two of the tracks from her 2017 EP 5 Sad Songs, "I Gotta Pick Myself Up" and "Hit it Right".
Cao's "Screen Autobiography (Shanghai)" consists of photographic green screens of different sizes forming a composition that reminds a folding screen.
A series of short videos filmed with these green screen items is looped on the LED monitors. The exhibition area becomes a temporary "live photography studio" where the boundaries between real and virtual, exaggerated and distorted, familiar and strange are blurred, making it difficult for visitors to trust the reality of the images.
Date: Through January 21, 2024
Venue: Prada Rong Zhai
Address: 186 Shaanxi Rd N.| 陕西北路186号