The Zabludowicz Collection is delighted to announce a major new solo exhibition by the highly acclaimed Chinese multi-media artist LuYang. LuYang NetiNeti will run from 22 September 2022–12 February 2023 and will be their first solo show in the UK. 2022 also marks 15 years since the Collection opened its space on Prince of Wales Road, Camden. The exhibition will feature the world premiere of a new Zabludowicz Collection commission, alongside multiple immersive moving image installations, an interactive gaming space with the feel of a retro arcade, and a screening room filled with a ‘greatest hits’ of the artist’s videos from across the last decade. Visitors will be invited to step into the sensory experience that is LuYang’s artistic universe.
LuYang’s challenging and unsettling work destabilises the divisions between past and future, human and machine, and life and death, reflected in the title of the exhibition, which incorporates the Sanskrit expression ‘Neti Neti’, which means “not this, not that”, or “neither this, nor that”. Immersed in the cultures of anime, video games and sci-fi the artist’s wildly engaging and darkly humorous projects are all-consuming in their visual and sonic intensity. LuYang combines aspects of traditional spiritual belief with motifs from science and medicine to investigate the mysteries and mechanics of the human body and mind.
The exhibition will centre on DOKU, LuYang’s own digital avatar. Using advanced motion capture and CGI animation technology, DOKU combines ancient ideas of reincarnation with a contemporary exploration of the multiplicity and fragility of the self. LuYang has created six versions of the DOKU avatar to date, corresponding to the six paths of reincarnation as described in Buddhism: Animal, Asura, Heaven, Hell, Human and Hungry Ghost. The movements assigned to these characters have been created through the motion tracking of real human dancers the artist has collaborated with, including performers of the traditional Legong dance of Bali, Indonesia, and Japanese pop dancer kEnkEn.
In the Main Hall we present the world premiere of a new Zabludowicz Collection commission, DOKU Binary God (2022), a single-channel video featuring the characters Heaven and Hell choreographed in a new dance, leading to the formation of a hybrid Binary God character. The piece will be presented in the gallery’s Main Hall in a dramatic black and white installation environment inspired by Taoist cosmology.
Also in the Main Hall is major video work DOKU the self (2022), first shown at the Venice Biennale 2022. The cinematic narrative features LuYang as a character on a passenger airplane moving through numerous states or perception, and encountering the six DOKU avatars. The piece is a meditation on dream-states, simulated realities and the transience of our physical bodies. Responding directly to the Chapel architecture of the gallery, the overall installation is conceived as a temple, and features a giant wall-projected mandala.
On the Mezzanine level of the Main Hall, the video installation Electromagnetic Brainology (2017) features four deities relating to the four ‘great elements’: earth, water, fire, and air. Each deity brandishes a TMS wand (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation), a device used in contemporary neuroscience for non-invasive treatments of conditions such as depression. The deities strengthen themselves into a super deity, a metaphor for LuYang’s own fantasy that a better synchronisation of the brain will lead to an increase in happiness and human potential.
The Middle Gallery operates as a cinema-style space, showing a number of key moving image works by the artist and their numerous collaborators from across the last decade. These include Zabludowicz Collection work LuYang Delusional Crime and Punishment (2016), and milestone animations such as UterusMan (2013).
The Back Gallery is transformed into a ‘playground’ games arcade, full of neon light and pattern, to present an installation of The Great Adventure of Material World project (2019–). At the centre of the installation is the three-channel manga-style animation Material World Knight, which brings together many characters from across LuYang’s previous work to form a ‘league of legends’. Visitors will have the chance to play a video game version of the project, inhabiting a character across nine realms; acquiring energy, being destroyed and reborn, and exploring the spectacular and disorientating universe LuYang has created.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a programme of live events, and the launch of a publication, to be announced.
LuYang said: “It feels amazing to be bringing my work to the Zabludowicz Collection, my first solo show in the UK. Through this exhibition, I want to blur the boundaries between past and future, reality and otherworld, person and machine, and invite audiences to experience DOKU. The show also includes a world premiere work, which is being presented in direct response to the incredible architecture of the gallery space.”
Paul Luckraft, Senior Curator (Exhibitions), Zabludowicz Collection said: “We are thrilled to be collaborating with LuYang, one of the most distinctive and impactful young artists in the world today. This new landmark solo exhibition, their first in the UK, will give audiences the chance to experience complex and challenging contemporary art that is fun, intense and direct. Unafraid to tackle big questions around human identity and mortality in the digital age, LuYang draws on a rich tapestry of belief systems and harnesses the very latest production technologies.”