Carefully and quietly, the film installation observes this owner, Kenneth Wong, tells his story as he goes through his daily routine: how his parents, first-generation Chinese immigrants, realized the American dream through the store; how the once legendary store’s fortunes rose in close connection with the Hollywood entertainment industry, then fell with the proliferation of cheaper silk available in the new global economy; and how he came to be the caretaker of the family legacy. His deep feelings for the shop, its history and its future, link to larger discussions concerning the place of craft and authenticity in a world increasingly defined by cheap goods and profit.
Reflecting on culture’s ephemerality in contemporary China, Oriental Silk tracks how the disposability of social products infects people’s conceptions of personhood, and how identity is progressively quantified as cultural, political, and economic forces that place the importance of the individual increasingly in question.
Throughout the exhibition, Zhu will initiate a series of events, including performance, workshop, and panel, to invite discussions concerning collective memory, cultural heritage, and identity.
Xiaowen Zhu is a London-based documentary filmmaker, media artist and writer. Described as a visual poet, social critic, and aesthetic researcher, she uses video, photography, performance, installation and mixed media as platforms to communicate the complex experience of being an international person and to wrestle with the notion of a disembodied identity. She is the first receipt of the TASML Artist Residency Award and Marylyn Ginsburg Klaus Post-MFA Fellowship. She was an artist-in-residence at ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany and V2_Institute for the Unstable Media, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Zhu’s work has been widely shown internationally, including the Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum, Beijing China; Chronus Art Center, Shanghai, China; Art Basel Hongkong; ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany; V2_Institute for the Unstable Media, Rotterdam, the Netherlands; Dumbo Arts Center, New York, USA; Videonale, Berlin, Germany; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, USA; Los Angeles Art Association, USA; Strozzina Art Space, Florence,Italy; Sainsbury Center for Visual Arts, Norwich, UK; Toronto Urban Film Festival, Canada; DOK Munich, Germany; Athens Video Art Festival, Greece; Shanghai eArts Festival, China; and more.