From 2022 to 2023, artist Liu Yujia embarked on four long journeys deep into the Changbai Mountains and the upper stream of the Songhua River. During her frequent voyages through the North’s ethereal glow, she filmed all four seasons of Northeast China. For the artist, the long journeys were an awe-inspiring and transformative life experience; for the timeless Eurasian landmass, her arrivals and departures were as fleeting as a flicker of light.
Taking inspiration from the pervasive, glimmering and all-immersive light in the boreal forests as a trope that calls the human-nature duality into question, the exhibition A Darkness Shimmering in the Light presents Liu Yujia’s two bodies of recent work about ecological entanglements, filmed respectively on location at the Kunlun Mountains in Xinjiang and the Changbai Mountains in China’s Northeast. The exhibition highlights the artist’s approach to film as a form of eco-fiction that is intricately interwoven with documentary footage, ethnography, local mythology, folklore, and embodied experiences. Looming in the backdrop of these films are the majestic contours of two prominent mountain ranges in Asia, as well as China’s two national frontiers, both suffused with complex histories, geopolitics and extractive economies. Here, the notion of the frontier ecology is taken as a speculative perspective that has the potentiality to transcend geopolitics. By juxtaposing the artist’s works on these two frontier regions, the exhibition attempts to present Liu Yujia’s eco-fiction as a space where historical, ecological, spiritual and personal dimensions intersect, and also an experimental approach to evoke emotive and affective forms of kinship of the human and non-human.