Yan Wang Preston: Three Easier Pieces

Yan Wang Preston: Three Easier Pieces
Yan Wang Preston: After 'To Add a Meter to an Anonymous Mountain, 1995', 2023 (A4-print)

Yan Wang Preston: Three Easier Pieces
24th April – 25th May, 2024
Messums London
28 Cork Street
London
W1S 3NG

Messums London are delighted to announce their second solo exhibition by the acclaimed Chinese-British photographer, Yan Wang Preston: Three Easier Pieces.

The exhibition is a presentation of new works that explore the complexities of cultural migration by restaging iconic artworks in different geopolitical and cultural contexts. The series includes the photographic and performative restaging of artworks such as To Add a Metre to an Anonymous Mountain, 1995, Wanderer above the Sea of Fog 1817, and Olympia 1863. The exhibition also features a behind the scenes ‘Making Room’, with archival materials including letters from volunteers, snapshots, and films.

Yan Wang Preston: Three Easier Pieces
After ‘Olympia, 1863’ He (A4 print)
Image courtesy of the artist and Messums London

The first piece in the series, ‘After, To Add a Metre to an Anonymous Mountain, 1995was made in August 2021. Staged in Beijing, Zhang Huan’s original work saw ten young Chinese artists piling their naked bodies on top of each other as a solidary protest against the societal expulsion that they suffered. Facing gender, cultural and racial segregations within UK society, Wang Preston decided to restage the work in a post-industrial moorland in Lancashire, inviting local volunteers from diverse backgrounds to perform naked with her.

Yan Wang Preston: Three Easier Pieces
After ‘Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, 1817’, 12 Dec 2022 (A4 print)
Image courtesy of the artist and Messums London

Wang Preston comments, “One needs a community to make change. All three pieces were made with multi-ethnic volunteers who were fully aware of the works’ critical intentions. To re-photograph is to have a conversation with history. To re-stage with naked bodies is to have an intimate, personal, and transcultural encounter with history. With this extreme sense of vulnerability, dis-placement and re-placement, a set of new understandings towards the past, the present and the self may emerge. This is what Three Easier Pieces are finding out.”

Yan Wang Preston: Three Easier Pieces
After ‘To Add a Meter to an Anonymous Mountain, 1995’, 2021. Still Photographs (A4-print) Image courtesy of the artist and Messums London

In doing so, she not only re-considers this influential artwork from the lens of eco-feminism and interculturalism, but also celebrates Britain’s multicultural society, suggesting a possible future when integration and empathy transcend boundaries between peoples, cultures, and countries.

Yan Wang Preston: Three Easier Pieces
After ‘Olympia, 1863’, 2023_Stage (A4 print)
Image courtesy of the artist and Messums London

Wang Preston continues her exploration in landscape representation, gender, the gaze, and western colonialism in her work, After Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (1817) which addresses the problematic symbolism of the heroic male in western art. Wang Preston reconstructed the painting, standing nude on a rock for as long as she and her volunteers could endure. She states, “It scrutinised our exposed bodies mercilessly while sharing our vulnerabilities with the viewers. Such discomfort continues when I face so many reclining female nudes in western history of art.”

Messums ORG will also present works by Yan Wang Preston at Photo London. STAND A04

Yan Wang Preston: Three Easier Pieces opens on the 24th of April until 25th of May, 2024 at Messums London

©2024 Messums London

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