1 August - 1 October 2018

Curated by Lucie McIntosh




Zhou Tao

From the old man’s complexion lit by natural light, to the crowd bathed in the colour of night; from the square stained blue by LED billboards, and the anti-government protestors revealing all night, to the rust and oxidised green surface of a rural metal mine; movements of these different haracters, even a violent squall colliding with a mountainside—these all create a refraction from the skin to the earth’s crust.

I often think of the strong emotional fluctuations I experience in the filmmaking process and how to endure them. However, at the exact same time one’s senses are being struck and consciousness is constantly being washed out, a blank space emerges; an internal blank surface in which stories and landscapes are regenerated into shapes and forms, re- turning to each of their own positions. Of course, these stories also exist simultaneously in reality, as do the landscapes and characters. The doubling of the surfaces brings everything back to the starting point; back to the womb.

A “tossing and turning” takes place in this blank surface. The “double“ is not something empty or intangible, but a living organism taking the shape of a body while generating movement. The body rolls over and instantly fires all the joints and knuckles; the blood starts to circulate. The two surfaces twist and intertwine, creating a body and its skin. The double images penetrate each other; layers of reflections in the skin melt together. His hair and skin, expression and movement, Just as vivid and lively as they could be.

But what about the emotions stirred by the impact of reality? Have they disappeared? No, they become the plasma hidden under the skin. The sensory experience gives them a place to return to—instead of simply turning into grief or cynicism, they become the hematopoietic tissue under the surface of the skin.

I think of image not as a way to document the cruelness of reality, or the psychedelic vertigo of the LED lights in the square, but more as a means of connecting the surface and skin, from double to rebirth.

I wonder why I always submerge myself in a way of filming that’s like skimming the surface of the earth; leaving myself open to the shocks of the uncertain rather than follow- ing a script. I think of filming as a basic movement of our consciousness—at a time when everyone can take out his or her phone to film, we have all actually developed a new human reflex, along the lines of “thinking” or “seeing”. This act has become so ordinary that we almost neglect it: a new basic movement that allows us to evolve a new sensory antenna. 

— Zhou Tao

Born in 1976 in Changsha, Hunan Province, Zhou Tao studied at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts and received a bachelor of fine arts in oil painting in 2001 and a master of fine arts in mixed-media studies in 2006. Currently lives in Guangzhou.

Zhou Tao finds visual and narrative materials for his arresting film works in the places and communities he encounters, and the narration of the film is often developed from the accumulation of the encountered moments. There is no single entry to the practice of Zhou Tao, through often subtle and humorous interactions with people, things, actions, locations and situations, Zhou’s videos invite us to experience the multiple trajectories of reality—what he once called the “folding scenario” or the “zone with folds.” Although all of his footage captures actual scenes, the poetics of Zhou’s visual narratives dissolve the division between fact and fiction. For him, the use of moving image is not a deliberate choice of artistic language or medium, instead the operation of the camera is a way of being that blends itself with everyday life.

In 2013, Zhou Tao won the 1st Han Nefkens Foundation BACC Award for Contemporary Art in Asia. In 2015, Zhou Tao won the 1st Prize of the Jury of the Ministry, 61st Oberhausen Internation Short Film Festival. In recent years, he has been participating several significant international exhibitions including: Viva Arte Viva, 57th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, 2017; Sharjah Biennial 13, Sharjah, 2017; Tales of Our Time, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2016; APT8, Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Brisbane, 2015; “Social Factory” - 10th Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai, 2014; The 5th Auckland Triennial: If you were to live here……, Auckland, 2013, etc.

(Text by Vitamin Archive)

IMAGES | Zhou Tao, Blue and Red (stills from video), 2014, single channel HD video (16:9, colour, with sound), 25min 14sec. Courtesy of the artist and Vitamin Creative Space, Beijing 2018