October 30, 2014 - OCAT Xi’an - Shezad Dawood
October 30, 2014

Shezad Dawood

Shezad Dawood, Towards the Possible Film, 2014. HD and super 16 mm transferred to HD, 20 minutes. Commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella and Delfina Foundation.

Shezad Dawood
Anthropology of Chance

November 1, 2014–February 26, 2015

OCAT Xi’an
Beichitou 1st Road
Yanta District
Shaanxi Province
Hours: Tuesday–Friday 10–17h (last entry 16:30h)
Free entry

T +86 (0) 29 85529730
ocat-xian [​at​] ocat.org.cn


As a first solo exhibition in China, Shezad Dawood’s exhibition presents a full range of the artist’s works. The experimental films and paintings included share in common a layering of images that are drawn from anthropology and archaeology, the broad history of film and from the artist’s own childhood. Within these still and moving assemblages, the unexpected juxtapositions which are produced allow for an open reading of the works, both of the possible narratives and themes upon which they might centre.

Three pieces involve the artist’s signature Saami textiles, each using antique textile to different effect. Through Pierced Flesh and Skin of Dreams is an installation of five panels suspended in series from the ceiling so that equal attention can be paid to the front and the back of each panel work. For The Melancholy Departure of 7669, the textiles form the screens upon which the moving images are projected achieving a poetic interweaving with projected imagery. The images that flow over each of the three panels take their cue from the cuneiform symbols that represent fish, sun and god, which are in turn inspired by the elements of water, fire and air. These are taken from existing archival sources and the artist’s archive of moving images and stills accumulated in recent years and in locations as diverse as Syria, Easter Island, Mexico, Morocco and Hawaii. For Video Avebury, the latest example of Dawood’s painting and printing overlay technique, the textile functions as the canvas.

The moving image is a key area of expression in Shezad Dawood’s work, and Anthropology of Chance includes three video installations. The first, The New Dream Machine, is inspired by a kinetic sculpture called the Dream Machine, which combined sound and light to emit hypnotic light waves aimed at stimulating the brain. Conceived in 1961 by the Paris-based British artist Brion Gysin together with fellow British computer programmer Ian Sommerville, it was an art object to be seen with the eyes closed: Dawood’s New Dream Machine recreates this effect, further paying tribute to the music of Brian Jones, founding member of the Rolling Stones, in collaboration with the contemporary musician Duke Garwood.

The second moving-image piece, Trailer, reanimates footage from Shezad Dawood’s feature film Piercing Brightness, in the form of a 15-minute experimental “trailer,” conceived for display in an exhibition space, as opposed to a cinema. A third film work, Towards the Possible Film, was shot on location in Morocco, a site chosen by the artist as a “Martian landscape bearing the legacy of Spanish occupation and contemporary socio-political agitation.” Towards the Possible Film uses the genre of science fiction to touch upon the clash of indigenous cultures and travellers who arrive on their shores; fear of the unknown in the absence of understanding. The project was developed on site with a local theatre group and choreographer.

Completing the full picture of his practice, Dawood’s final piece for Anthropology of Chance is the latest of a series of neon sculptures titled Elliptical Variations III. Continuing his interest in the collision between meaning and structure, for Dawood neon suggests a meeting point between modernism and mysticism, which he explores using juxtapositions of geometric form and colour.

About OCAT Xi’an
OCT Contemporary Art Terminal in Xi’an (OCAT Xi’an) is the latest addition to the OCAT group which was founded in Shenzhen in 2005. OCAT Xi’an is devoted to contemporary art: its mission is to draw upon local and international resources to promote Chinese contemporary art to an international standard as well as to support a range of cultural exchange programmes in Xi’an.

Press contact:
T +86 (0) 29 85529730 / press-xian [​at​] ocat.org.cn

Shezad Dawood at OCAT Xi’an
OCAT Xi’an
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