Lu Yang: LuYang Vibratory Field
20 January – 21 May 2023
This online presentation features a focused selection of works from Lu Yang’s LuYang Vibratory Field at Kunsthalle Basel, the Shanghai-born artist’s first solo exhibition in Switzerland and one of the most comprehensive presentations of the artist’s production from the last decade, nearly every room will evoke a different cosmos spawned from the videos featured within them.
The works’ humor, depth, and singular magnetism open doors to worlds (and the concerns that accompany them) that may look terrifying and strange but also, at times, not so far from our own.
‘Doku The Self’ is Lu Yang’s first narrative film along in the ongoing Doku series. As the digital avatar of the artist, Doku was born prior to the turbulent and isolated year of 2020 and continued to develop in the following period of uncertainty. By breaking through technological barriers and blending with their digital self with various forms of dancing, exotic costumes, Buddhist doctrines and bodily movement, Lu Yang, for the first time, has injected Doku with his own life experience, and built this video around specific memories and lived experience.
In the film Doku’s personal dream acts as a catalyst for the story and a prelude to a train of events. Lu Yang’s digital avatar experiences a crumbling world and impending doom along with the general inhabitants of the world. This extinction event in the dream shifts into a inevitable awakening — an aircraft flying through clouds and thunderstorms. “Dying in dreams and living in realities”, the artist dissociates himself entirely again while recalling his personal experience, and moves between subject and object with a restrained and calm perspective. From the perceiving of the “overview effect”, Lu Yang has experienced the non-duality of death and birth that will constantly convert and overlap but also coexist in an unbreakable cycle — they are the entity of Saha World.
Lu Yang’s Kunsthalle presentation is hypnotically disorientating. One moment, you’re sitting on Christian pews in a Buddhist temple and you’re watching brightly colored videos on techno sound, you lie on a dentist’s chair and watch the giant breasts of a robot bunny, you fight virtual enemies in a series of cage-like game stations, and you sit in airplane seats and fly over dystopian landscapes witnessing the digital reincarnation of the artist.
In Delusional Mandala (2015), Lu digitally reconstructs himself as a sexless test subject for a series of neurological experiments, dancing and flailing as it is scanned, syringed and reincarnated in the image of Buddhist figures, eventually speeding across a desert landscape in the guise of a neon-lit truck-cum-hearse-cum-shrine.
From the temple to the airport, the different spaces of the exhibition are testimony to Lu Yang’s wildly frenetic imagination. Winner of the 2022 Deutsche Bank “Artist of the Year” award, his world-building proves to be as much virtual as physical. The works’ humor, depth, and singular magnetism open doors to worlds that may look terrifying and strange but also, at times, not so far from our own.
Lu Yang’s creation The Great Adventure of the Material World is the second work in his Material World Knight series and also the most challenging work in both the interactive game and single channel video forms. His work The Material World Knight series create an ideology distinct from current society and bring together many characters from previous works to form her own league of legends. In the material world, audiences will be led by the protagonist—The Material World Knight to go through multiple identity transformations by exploring the universe, acquiring energy, being destroyed and reborn and experiencing internal fight with their own emotions, desires and themselves. The Great Adventure of the Material World contains all the distinctive elements of Lu Yang’s previous works to construct a virtual game world.
While some of Lu Yang’s games follow the typical role-playing gaming format with narratives geared toward completing “quests,” battling (or ducking) enemies, and achieving “victory,” Lu Yang uses them all to explore the (sometimes traumatizing) spiritual plane of existence, rather than simply to entertain by way of a competitive, adrenaline-fueled format.
LuYang Vibratory Field is on view at Kunsthalle, Basel now until 21 May 2023
The exhibition is curated by Elena Filipovic, Director at Kunsthalle Basel