LIU Chuang

Special Economic Zone  (2018), video still, courtesy of the artist

Special Economic Zone (2018), video still, courtesy of the artist


Special Economic Zone

2018, video, 25’ 56’’

This video essay collects a large number of historical photographs and sound files recording the history of Shenzhen. These images are like a metronome marking time, exploring how Shenzhen’s economic growth rate was transformed into a visual vocabulary through modeling. The piece also recalls the artist’s earlier series Buying Everything on You (2005- ). In that series, the artist started talking to people looking for work at Shenzhen’s biggest human resources market, offering to buy everything they had on them, and also adding that their possessions would be shown in an art museum. Those willing to sell included university students who had recently arrived in Shenzhen and the recently unemployed, most of them very young, from many different small and medium-sized cities and towns, or the countryside. Buying Everything on You uses experimental archival methods to respond to museum display methods, and through performance records the various inequalities that emerge out of models of urban industrialization. For the artist, Shenzhen is a constantly mutating ruin of human modernity. Both Special Economic Zone and Buying Everything on You sample and collect historical traces left by humans, yet unusually, their subjects are still alive.


LIU Chuang

Born 1978 in Hubei; lives and works in Beijing

Liu Chuang works primarily with sculpture, film, and installation. Known for engaging the borders of social, economic, and urban realities, he charts a manifold understanding of the systems and patterns that underpin and structure our everyday experience of modernity. Liu Chuang closely analyses the traits shared amongst objects and patterns, with a particular focus towards how they resurrect themselves through different periods in time by adapting into new variants. Often employing an expansive array of methodologies, Liu Chuang closely traces the discernible contours of an object or network of information, delving into the clues impressed within their pattern of evolution and tracing their capacity to shift between different material forms. Within this conjuncture of dynamic change, modernity is considered as a generative ecology, a field of possibilities defined by interactions dovetailing together organisms, inorganic matter, and architectural mechanisms. For Liu Chuang, the unpredictable encounters between these different systems allude to a wider topological system activated by a chain-reaction of poetic events and unpredictable behavioural changes – a movement of transformation that perennially eclipses the anticipation of human intention and desire.