In the context of its international mission, the Palais de Tokyo
chose curator Jo-ey Tang to travel to China and Southeast Asia. After a year of prospection, Inside China presents a selection of five Chinese artists in dialogue with three French artists including the renowned Nadar.
Nadar (18201910), caricaturist, journalist, and novelist, was a pioneer of photography, in particular aerial photography, who helped usher in a new era of perception. He took some of the earliest aerial photographs in 1858 above Petit-Bicêtre (now Petit- Clamart), near Paris. Yet it is his 1863 image of the inflating interior of Le Géant, his 60-meter-high hot air balloon, which resembled an aerial view of an unidentifiable space, that signals that what we seek might not be found externally but originate from the depths of within. Nadars enigmatic image-before-image charted out a yet-to-be-defined space of seeing before seeing, of being before being.
Like Nadars intimate view into the carrier of future, works of art are enablers of perception, conveyors of subjectivity, and compressors of time. They equip us with their strangeness these new ways of seeing and sensing. The artists in the exhibition entrench in the present moment, as a way to reach far into the span of time. They launch great distances, at once removed and inextricably linked to the self and the world. They search intensely in their peripheral visions, not to look away from their and our problems, but to pull the tendrils that could unravel or cinch our systems of knowledge. Just as Le Géant elevated Nadar to a new field of vision, the artists in the exhibition likewise propel us to new perspectives, rushing us headlong into the unknown: from weight to levity, from mental perception to physical manifestation, from the past to the imminent hallucinatory future.
With the trust in time we adjust to new objects and new senses put forth by these artists; as in Nadars words: In that very second, the slightest ray of light would dissipate the tenebrous depths and enable the eye to take measure of the darkest corners.*