April 6, 2017 - Nottingham Contemporary - Lara Favaretto: Absolutely Nothing / Wu Tsang: Devotional Document
April 6, 2017

Nottingham Contemporary

(1) Lara Favaretto, Bulk, 2002. Collection of the artist. Installation view, Project Room Eldorado, Gamec, Bergamo, Italy, 2002. Photo: Ela Bialkowska. (2) Wu Tsang, Duilian, 2016. Courtesy the artist, Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin. Commissioned and produced by Spring Workshop. With Co-comissioners Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève für for BIM 2016; ArtHub Asia; Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art. With the support of Nottingham Contemporary. 

Lara Favaretto: Absolutely Nothing
Wu Tsang: Devotional Document
May 20–August 28, 2017

Nottingham Contemporary
Weekday Cross
Nottingham NG1 2GB
United Kingdom

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This summer, Nottingham Contemporary presents two major solo exhibitions by Lara Favaretto and Wu Tsang.

Favaretto’s exhibition is her largest to date in the UK. It brings together pivotal pieces spanning two decades of her practice, along with recent works and a major public commission. The Italian artist’s work addresses sculpture’s mutability and monumentality; failure, futility and disappearance are treated as generative processes. As Favaretto has said, “I like to shift from perfection to the fall, to push the work to its tipping point, its limit, to endanger it, to the point of making it yield, jam, collapse.”

Titled Absolutely Nothing, the exhibition is intended by the artist to put forward varying states of uncertainty. The display will include 14 enigmatic sculptures titled Bulk (2002), plaster casts of papier-maché carnival masks, as well as Relic (2015), a series of nine concrete sculptures, akin to archeological finds, that were cast from the fourth episode in Favaretto’s "Momentary Monument" series, 400 tonnes of collected scrap metal that were presented at dOCUMENTA (13). Only the concrete parts of the installation were kept, like remnants from an unknown past. Elsewhere, Di Blasi R7 (2012), takes its title from a moped, ridden repeatedly around the galleries before the show opens, randomly scraping, marking and denting the gallery walls in a “private performance."

For the rest of the year, a major new public commission, titled Thinking Head (2017), will comprise clouds of steam slowly rising from the roof of Nottingham Contemporary. Completely uncontrolled by the artist, the steam will move in shifting patterns—forming plumes, wisps, complex shapes. The inspiration for Favaretto’s project is Alighiero e Boetti’s final sculpture, sometimes called My Brain is Smoking (1993). Favaretto has said she wanted to turn a museum into a “thinking machine." At Nottingham Contemporary, the intensity of the steam clouds above will correspond to the intensity of the thinking happening inside. On dull days, there will be little steam; at certain moments, it might be billowing. The other half of this work is subterranean and out of sight. Details of this secret project may or may not be revealed in the future.

Berlin-based artist Wu Tsang’s installations, performances, sculptures and videos move fluidly between documentary and fiction. Titled Devotional Document, this exhibition will be the artist’s first solo show in the UK, and brings together two film installations and a video: Duilian (2016), Damelo Todo/Odot Olemad (2010/14), and Shape of a Right Statement (2008). Together these films evoke performative states of impossibility, whether through imagined histories, unrecognized languages, or narratives of dispossession.

Duilian is inspired by the life and writings of Chinese poet Qiu Jin, a revolutionary martyr of the early twentieth century. Tsang’s narrative is set on a colonial junk boat off the shores of Hong Kong, floating between the past and present, and between culturally disparate "Chinese" identities. The film interweaves collaboratively translated poetry, performance and the remarkably theatrical martial art of "wushu." Damelo Todo was filmed in Los Angeles, where Tsang lived for the past decade, in a bar called the Silver Platter. For over 50 years, the Silver Platter has been a meeting place for several generations of queer and trans communities, often immigrants and political refugees from Central America. It was where, in 2008, Tsang started to co-host a weekly club night called Wildness. Damelo Todo tells the story of Salvadorian teenager named Teódulo Mejía, who came to LA fleeing his country’s civil war.

For Tsang the relationship between the cinematic and the social is inherently problematic, and her filmmaking becomes a testing ground for collaboration and repeated, perhaps ritualistic, refusals of representation. To quote Tsang in her ongoing dialogue with the theorist and poet Fred Moten: “These devotional practices seek passage to our sociality through impossible or unavailable images.”


Lara Favaretto’s public commission has been funded by Ampersand Foundation. Her exhibition has been supported by the Henry Moore Foundation.

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