Curated by Nikita Yingqian Cai
Times Art Center Berlin presents Zhou Tao’s solo project developed from the commissioning of Guangdong Times Museum in 2019. Zhou Tao spent nearly two years in between the oasis and the Gobi village, capturing our modernist obsession and utopian desire to turn deserts into habitat. The result is a rich repertoire of images that swiftly alternate between landscapes of sandstorms, dust clouds, changing seasons, and portraits of humans and other species cohabiting on ephemeral ecosystems left behind as byproducts of industrial intervention. In a state of exception, even the sublime of nature is burdened by human traces: winds batter through the poplar trees, swirling sand scours the metal surfaces of voluminous flora lying hopelessly in the desert, and voluptuous red buds are abandoned to appeal to no particular audience.
Situated at the core of Zhou Tao’s practice is the complexity and ambiguity of locales: the horizon in a tortoise’s eyes, the concrete overpass and the recreational activities it shelters, the ecological enclaves of the mine pit, the alien dome of an urban theater, the idyllic song of an occupied square, the reservoir collapsing into sands, the kid, the plant, the cow, the goat, the chicken and the dog cohabitate with the rusty machines . . . It is precisely by allegories of topography that Zhou Tao attempts to capture the organic coalescence between human, machines, and environment, to speak of planetary realities contaminated with local details and personal memories, and to allow particularities to fold back into the filmic space.