Patty Chang: Shangri-La Wars no. 1
Solar plate etching with chine colle
14 × 20 in
Limited Edition of 20
Courtesy of the artist and Art in General
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Patty Chang’s Shangri-La Wars no. 1, examines the concept of Shangri-La, or Heaven on Earth, and is inspired by the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by James Hilton and the artist’s experiences in China. The Shangri-La Wars no. 1 is based on a single channel video installation commissioned by the UCLA Hammer Museum Los Angeles, CA ; the New Museum of Contemporary Art New York, NY, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, IL and was on view at these institutions in 2005-2006. .
Patty Chang is a performance and video artist known for probing taboos, stereotypes, and cultural myths. Her humorous and sometimes shocking work mocks exoticized and diminutive depictions of Asian women in Western popular culture. Chang frequently appears in her own work, investigating complex aspects of Asian identity by impersonating contortionists, sex workers, and legendary street fighter Bruce Lee.
Chang’s notorious endurance performances tested the boundaries of social acceptability. Her unapologetically scatological performance Gong Lee with the Wind, exaggerated the storied connection between beans and flatulence the point of absurdity. The two-channel video In Love takes on the perennially taboo topic of incest. Chang appears to be sharing a passionate kiss with her parents; though, gradually it becomes apparent that they are eating an onion in reverse playback. Like photographers Sally Mann and Gillian Wearing, Chang complicates the lily-white sanctity of the parent-child relationship. Chang’s work is shocking, but also contemplative. In the 40-minute video Shangri-La, she makes a pilgrimage to the rural Chinese village of Zhongdian, one of three towns that claim to be the "real" magical city from James Hilton’s 1933 novel, Lost Horizon. Chang has had solo shows around the world, including the Museo National de Reina Sofia in Madrid, the Baltic Art Center is Visby, and the Jack Tilton Gallery in New York.