Mao Chenyu, Cloud Explosion: Dongting and the Death of Signifier, 2015. Single channel HDV, color, sound, 78′, produced in Yueyang, Hunan Province, China. Courtesy of the artist.


Cloud Explosion: Dongting and the Death of Signifier by Mao Chenyu

July 20, 2016
AAA in A, '09-'21

43 Remsen St. Brooklyn, NY

* Please note the film contains extensive use of Chinese language, and was screened without English subtitles.

The film takes as its subject the personal Weibo account of the director of the Dongting Lake Porpoise Sanctuary, using syntactical analysis to gradually deduce an interrogation of “reality” as the medium of presence. “Dongting” as a signifier suspends itself above the bubble of time, losing the concrete field where its image is created.

Technology, speed of the universe, possible escape, and the speculation of futurism reconstruct the symbolic field, yet we forget there are such things as time and reality. “The order of meanings” is in crisis, the image of cloud explosion produces nothingness and the field of nothingness.

– Mao Chenyu

Asia Art Archive in America hosted a screening of Mao Chenyu‘s Cloud Explosion: Donting and the Death of Signifier, followed by discussion with artist and curator Li Xiaofei. This program was part of Backyard Conversations, a series of informal screenings where we pause, rewind, forward, and look closely at works that escape easy interpretation.

MAO Chenyu lives and works in Shanghai, China. He is the host of Second-Text Lab and the founder of Paddyfilm. He works around the area of Dongting Lake Watershed. In 2012 Mao founded the experimental social platform Paddyfilm in Hunan, which investigates and analyses rural societies in China. Thirty Mu (a Chinese unit of area, 1 Mu is approximately equal to 667 m2) of paddy field has been transformed into a self-sufficient farming system which nurtures the linguistic and film practices of Paddyfilm. In 2015, in opposition to the drastic transformation of rural societies in China, Mao has set up a private Elaphurus Davidianus University (EDU) within Paddyfilm’s farm, and has carried out social research and education as a kind of institutional practice aimed at the new formation of rural social subjects and their relation with modern knowledge production.

LI Xiaofei is an artist who lives and works in Shanghai and New York. He graduated from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. Li has received grants from the Iaspis International Residency (Sweden) and the Asian Cultural Council (U.S.A). Li’s work has been featured in exhibitions internationally, including ARCTIC TAKE AWAY: Barents Spektakel (2015),  Social Factory: The 10th Shanghai Biennale (2014), The 8th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art (2014), The 60th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (2014), and Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture Shenzhen (2013).

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This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.