The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) presents “New Directions“, the first solo show of Nadim Abbas in mainland China. Abbas transforms the Long Gallery into a single work, “The Last Vehicle”, dividing the space into two separate but interrelated segments: part alien landscape, part domestic living quarters. The “vehicle” in question refers to a remote-controlled rover, fitted with a prosthetic eye and wireless transmitter, which relays live footage of the foreign terrain and its solitary inhabitant back to the sedentary view of an armchair explorer. Here, the death of experience is re-enacted through the afterlife of images; multiple hallucinatory frames of reference played out in a perpetual cycle of ruin and regeneration.
Using Paul Virilio’s critique of accelerated culture as a springboard, “The Last Vehicle” furthers Abbas’s metaphysical interrogation of constructed environments and the psychological neuroses inscribed therein, staging a laboratory of experience governed by the paradoxical principle that image always already precedes object. Central to the work is the figure of the “explorer”, whose sedentary-ness speaks immediately to the realities of zhainan [urban male shut-ins] or otaku culture—see also his work “I Would Prefer Not To” (2009). Tasked with patrolling an alien terrain via proxy, the narrative of the explorer parodies a scientific community reliant on visualizations of physical phenomenon produced from data sets collected by remotely operated instruments, a concern he has developed across several bodies of writing as well as “Afternoon in Utopia” (2012).
About the Artist
Nadim Abbas is a visual artist from Hong Kong. His work explores technologies of perception, culminating in the construction of complex set pieces where objects exist in an ambiguous relationship with their own image, and bodies succumb to the seduction of space. Abbas was awarded with the Asian Cultural Council Altius Fellowship and the HK Arts Development Award (Young Artist / Visual Arts) in 2014. Recent exhibitions include: 2015 Triennial: “Surround Audience” (New Museum, New York); “Unseen Existence” (HK Arts Centre, 2014), “Tetraphilia” (Third Floor Hermés, Singapore, 2013).
About New Directions
Initiated in 2015, New Directions offers some of China’s most promising artists a platform to realize their first institutional solo exhibition and monographic publication. Deepening UCCA’s ongoing commitment to emerging practices pioneered by shows including “ON | OFF: China’s Young Artists in Concept and Practice” (2013), “Breaking Forecast” (2009), and the Curated By…series (2010-2012), this series of solo exhibitions aims to present, through a constellation of singular positions, an overall sense of the richness and complexity of new art in China today.
About the Exhibition
“New Directions: Nadim Abbas”, the fifth installment of the New Directions series, is curated by UCCA assistant curator Guo Xi. New Directions is initiated by UCCA Director Philip Tinari. The exhibition is accompanied by a monograph of the same title and is available at UCCASTORE.