Open: Tue-Sat 11am-6pm

2/F, 27 Huqiu Road, Huangpu District, 200002, Shanghai, China
Open: Tue-Sat 11am-6pm


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Allora & Calzadilla: Gǎnyìng

Lisson Gallery, Shanghai

Sat 24 Feb 2024 to Sat 13 Apr 2024

2/F, 27 Huqiu Road, Huangpu District, 200002 Allora & Calzadilla: Gǎnyìng

Tue-Sat 11am-6pm

Artist: Allora & Calzadilla

“I was listening very attentively, without being able to hear your voices lost in the Caribbean symphony that was launching whirlwinds of water against the islands.” Suzanne Césaire, “The Great Camouflage”, 1945

For Allora & Calzadilla’s debut solo show in China, the Puerto Rico-based artists explore the notion of Gānyìng or “sympathetic resonance” – a concept originating in ancient Chinese cosmology that is also used in contemporary language to signal the everyday entanglement of forces and beings. The artists employ this notion of universal and temporal reverberation to connect significant historical moments with current global and climactic crises, amounting to an intersection of philosophy, history, and ecology – all held together formally in graceful and paradoxical balance.

Drawing upon wind and ocean currents throughout human and more-than-human history, the artists present Aeolian Charts (2023), a new series of large-scale watercolor works on paper which consider the poetic potential inherent in climate modelling and the visualization of global, atmospheric phenomena. Each Aeolian Chart plots the path of shifting wind movements using methods normally applied to predictive weather forecasting, although in this case the textual and numerical data have been replaced with noteworthy world events from maritime and climatological history, covering distant time periods and territories. As a result, new maps emerge, in which the wind patterns of the present become connective forces for events in asynchronous historical strata. Thus representations of meteorological phenomena in the past, such as the so-called “screaming” Agulhas current, as it flows at a speed of 33 knots across the Indian Ocean, near the mythical location of Mount Potalaka, the supposed original dwelling place of the Buddhist deity of Mercy (known as Guanyin in Chinese). Other Aeolian Charts note the first-ever recorded jufeng (typhoon) of 816AD, as well as a twelfth-century oracle bone found in Xiaotun, Henan province, used as a tool for weather divination.

Also installed in Allora & Calzadilla’s Shanghai exhibition is the work Penumbra (2020), a digital shadow animation that recreates the effect of light passing through foliage in the Absalon Valley of Martinique. The outlines of dense vegetation are projected beyond it spatially, but also through time, as Allora & Calzadilla’s work follows in the footsteps of poets and theoreticians Suzanne and Aimé Césaire, whose walks through this area inspired their own writings on diasporic culture and anti-colonial resistance in the Caribbean islands. Moved by a deep sense of “cosmic solidarity”—a concept closely related to Gānyìng—they also introduced this landscape to a group of Surrealist refugees fleeing WWII in 1941, among them Wifredo Lam, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Jacqueline Lamba, and André Breton. The multiple accounts of this historical, yet quasi-legendary encounter, also inspired Allora & Calzadilla’s recent animation work. “The tangle of these trees that specialize in acrobatics,” said André Breton, “boost each other into the clouds, leap over cliffs and cut moaning arches over sweet sorceresses under suction cups of sticky flowers.” Penumbra is projected in the gallery at an angle based on a continuous, real-time simulation of the sun’s location over Shanghai. The work is complemented by a musical composition by the Grammy-award-winning and Oscar-nominated composer David Lang and inspired by “shadow tones,” a psycho-acoustic phenomenon perceived when two real tones create the semblance of a third. While the notion of “sympathetic resonance” can be applied to the relations of sound and light waves, it may further be expanded to describe the influence and interdependence between human and more-than-human forces, geopolitical and geological powers, climate and historical time.

The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated publication including a newly commissioned study on the implications of Gǎnyìng in contemporary, global ecopoetics. Taking the form of a polyphonic text, the scholarly work has been carried out by einaidea, a Barcelona-based research group directed by writer and curator Manuel Cirauqui and associated with EINA School of Art and Design and the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain). The resulting collective essay features the collaboration of Caribbean and Spanish co-authors Alba Lorca, Mireia Molina Costa, Lizette Nin, and Nicola Pecci.

all images © the gallery and the artist(s)

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