The Shape of Things to Come

September 8 – October 20, 2009
140 sqm Gallery | Shanghai, CN

curator ::  Beatrice Leanza
participating artists ::  Elaine W. HO, LIANG Shuo, QIU Xiaofei, SUN Xun


…all about a kind of door. To envision us approaching and pounding on this door, increasingly hard, pounding and pounding, not just wanting admission but needing it; we don’t know what it is but we can feel it, this total desperation to enter, pounding and ramming and kicking. That, finally, the door opens, and it opens outward — we’ve been inside what we wanted all along. Das ist komisch.

David Foster Wallace

The Shape of Things to Come is an experimental project bringing together four artists and one curator to test the ground of contemporary art in a time ‘other than’ the present. Conceived in reminiscence of a Wunderkammer, or Cabinet of Curiosity, the exhibition engages the task of exposing the status of artistic objects to scientific self-inspection. It does so by stretching the visual narratives and spatial extents of the creative process past its extinction, into the realm of a possible future. As the Cabinet contained an object-ified reservoir of history, this project deliberately captures itself and the works toward a latent new aesthetic order.  Written in 1933 at the peak of the Great Depression, the novel by H.G. WELLS from which this exhibition takes its name provides an account of world history up to 2105; in a disastrous unraveling of ominous predictions towards global collapse, Well’s imagination purges the traces of the present with no regret for its oblivious passing away. What then, if we were able to test-drive the deflagration of our aesthetic universe? Manufactured in the conceptual size of a table-game, what parcels of history, relics of the contemporary, would be left as a visual repository of our present times, and in what new semiotic order would they re-awaken so that by way of an exhilarating expansion, stretched between experience and premonition, they’d frame the possibility of a hopeful artistic prophecy beyond its predictable end. Such is seemingly the quest of the current age. How to jump start history?  Can we avoid a critical conflation of artistic paradigms, that is, a totalizing erasure of things past, their identity and difference, and still break through a concrete future? The project’s participants use the site and economics of the exhibition to play out such a fantastic threat. Site-specifically devised for the 140sqm Gallery, the show presents a series of interlocking installations and textual interventions where boundaries continue to be tested and stripped down.