As the Butterfly Said to Chuang Tzu
New Work by Michael Zheng
Curated by Clark Buckner
May 26th - July 8th, 2006
Opening reception: Friday, May 26th, 6 – 9pm
The Taoist sage Chuang Tzu once dreamed he had turned into a butterfly. When he awoke, he couldn’t help but wonder whether it was he, who had dreamed of becoming a butterfly, or the butterfly, who had dreamed of becoming Chuang Tzu.
Michael Zheng’s recent work explores similar questions concerning perception and the sense we have of our place in the world, by complicating the distinction between objects and their contexts. He engages the walls of the gallery itself, so that the frame for his work no longer simply circumscribes the art, it IS the art. Or where is the frame?
An apparently blank wall of the gallery, upon closer inspection, reveals a photograph of the wall pasted tightly to it. What is the distinction between the wall and the image of the wall? What here, if anything, is presented? Further on, a similar, slightly transparent, photograph covers a hole that Zheng has cut through the wall, begging the question: what here is being revealed, and what concealed? Sounds from the street outside echo uncannily from a speaker in the center of the gallery, both providing a frame for incidental, everyday, phenomena that calls new attention to their often surprising aesthetic qualities, and introduces the contextual frame for the gallery itself into the gallery, complicating the distinction between reality and the exhibition. Other work in the show plays with the distinction between words and images, and the polyvalence of words themselves, to provoke new connotations through these confusions, and to question the basis of “meaning.” And an experiment with flower seeds and instructions for the audience to water the seeds “encouragingly,” “discouragingly,” and “neutrally,” explores questions concerning the relationship between faith and facts, and implicates the audience in the production of the show.
- Clark Buckner