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First major UK solo exhibition of London-based Canadian artist Zadie Xa on view at Pump House Gallery
Zadie Xa, Fishscales and Poisonous Darts, 2016. Photo: Eoin Carey.

LONDON.- In collaboration with PS/Y’s Hysteria programme, Wandsworth Council’s Pump House Gallery presents the first major UK solo exhibition of London-based Canadian artist Zadie Xa.

The exhibition The Conch, Sea Urchin and Brass Bell tells the story of a displaced body’s journey and return to a ‘homeland’. The story of the protagonist’s search for belonging unfolds through the gallery, revealing a journey of excitement, rejection, and bewilderment.

In collaboration with PS/Y’s Hysteria programme, Xa uses moving-image, soundscapes, objects and textiles and interlaces imagined and learned Korean folklore to seek a space that explores how diasporic knowledge can be transformed into new realities. Filmic flashbacks, almost recognisable figures and looping dream states invite the audience to join Xa on a journey through her own memory, Korean cultural memory and future possible scenarios. Using the ritual of storytelling, rhythm, and repetition, the exhibition responds to a desire to reach states of true enlightenment.

In her work Zadie Xa interweaves fact with fiction, past with future, to explore identity, desire and personal fantasy. Through mysterious stories she seeks to create a space where we can reconsider notions of national identity, cultural ownership, and folkloric displacement. Employing painting, textile, video, and sound within her storytelling, Xa’s practice looks at performances where traditional cultural knowledge is passed between diasporic bodies.

This exhibition is part of PS/Y’s Hysteria programme and is curated by Mette Kjærgaard Præst in partnership with Pump House Gallery.

Hysteria is a combined arts programme inviting audiences to explore health and illness in contemporary society, focusing on issues of gender, race and cultural identity. The programme is delivered by PS/Y and takes place in partnership with organisations and institutions across London.

During the development of The Conch, Sea Urchin and Brass Bell Zadie Xa presented Basic Instructions B4 Leaving, as part of PS/Y’s Hysterical X, at Café OTO in December 2016.

Through performance, video, painting and textiles, artist Zadie Xa interrogates the overlapping and conflation of cultures that inform self conceptualised identities, notions of self and her experience within the Asian diaspora. Her intricate hand-sewn fabric work stitches together familiar symbols of yin-yangs, knives, lucky numbers and monolid eyes, all operating within a system of personalised semiotics. These exaggerated motifs are utilised by Xa to both combat and engage with Eurocentric perceptions of Asian identity and otherness and aspire to create new and alternative Asian identity narratives often fantastical and within the realm of the supernatural.

Zadie Xa was born in 1983 in Vancouver Canada and currently lives in London UK. She received an MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art in 2014 and a BFA at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in 2007. Recent exhibitions and performances include Crash Boom Hisssssss. Legend of the Liquid Sword, Somerset House, for Block Universe, London, 2017; Dark Water The Dead of Night, programmed by Tai Shani and A-Z, CGP Gallery; Walled Gardens in an Insane Eden, curated by Marcelle Joseph Projects, Sara Zanin Gallery, Rome IT, 2017; Linguistic Legacies and Lunar Exploration, Serpentine Gallery; Kind of Flossy, Assembly Point Gallery; A Rose Is Without a ‘Why’. It Blooms Because It Blooms, Carl Freedman Gallery; Ride the Chaktu // First Contact, Serpentine Radio; With Institutions Like These, Averard Hotel (all London, 2016).

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