From October 29, 2023, to February 18, 2024, UCCA Dune presents Alice Wang: The Touching Touched. This is the most comprehensive institutional solo show of Alice Wang – presenting a survey of her sculptures, films, and photographs from 2013 to 2023, and a series of new sculptures commissioned by UCCA. Wang investigates the uncanny dimensions of the natural world through her bodily senses, visiting faraway places such as the Arctic, the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope in Guizhou, the Mesoamerican pyramids, and other geological, technological, and archaeological sites. Through the mediums of sculpture, film, and photography, Wang reconfigures our understanding of reality using materials such as meteorites, atomic and subatomic elements, fossils, sensitive plants, moss, heat, water vapor, wind, and other metamorphic substances. This exhibition is curated by UCCA curator Neil Zhang.
One of the highlights of the exhibition is the juxtaposition of Wang’s earliest sculpture Whew (2013) with her latest UCCA commission Untitled (2023) in the main exhibition hall. While Untitled reveals the quantum realm to our human senses, Whew explores kineticism and change, both playing with elemental matter through the sculptural form. Whew, an onomatopoeia, is a large (180 cm3) clear levitating minimalist cube filled with helium. Over time and given its atmospheric context, the sculpture will float around, shrink and expand, and eventually fall to the ground, changing its original shape and state.
Untitled, on the other hand, consists of twinned porcelain sculptures that are identical in shape yet opposite in texture – one is coated in high gloss black glaze and the other is in a white crackle glaze finish – generating different optical effects. The twinned sculptures are modeled after hydrogen electrons in quantum entanglement – they cease to be distinct objects but function as one system that simultaneously inhabits two states. In Wang’s own words, “The physical boundary of the work is not limited to its visible expression.”
In addition to an examination of Wang’s sculpture and photography practice, the exhibition also features three experimental films Wang has made since 2017. The infinite film series Pyramids and Parabolas explores our relationship to the natural world by examining how we communicate with the unknown universe through geometric structures. In Pyramids and Parabolas II, we see the artist building a radio telescope in Joshua Tree, then an aerial view of a mountain landscape in Guizhou, China, and then in Svalbard, just 500 miles south of the North Pole, where the embodied camera is on a snowmobile chasing the pink blue hue of the first sunrise of the year. The films are not just recordings of the artist’s experiences, but reflect on notions of the self, nature, and the cosmos in the vast expanse of spacetime.
With sculptures, films, and photographs, Alice Wang combines scientific, technological, and mythical perspectives to explore nature in cosmic and subatomic scales where the real and the imaginary meet. Alice Wang: The Touching Touched invites the audience to challenge our conventional perception of how matter exists in the universe and ponder the implications of our collective future.