Inlet of Arid Dreams is the first institutional solo exhibition of the artist Tan Jing, a native of Shenzhen, China, known for her experimentation with unconventional materials across the media of sculpture, installation, and moving images. Her work explores the multi-layered narratives between reality and fiction by combining elements of folklore, organic materials, and personal memoirs. For Inlet of Arid Dreams, presented on the museum's 2nd floor, Tan Jing presents major new works, including the four-channel video installation titled Nook of a Hazy Dream (2023) and the soft fabric scented sculpture The Souvenir (2023), both commissioned by the Rockbund Art Museum.
Smell plays a distinctive role in Tan Jing's art. Olfactory memories, unlike verbal recollections, cannot be easily rewritten. She incorporates these sensory memories tied to identity and locality into her sculptural works. Whether it's the pungent aroma recalling Southeast Asian cuisine wafting from green tiles (Floor Tiles and Flowers, 2023) or the fragrance of Thai talcum powder, a reminder of grandmothers, emanating from fabric flowers (The Souvenir, 2023), the interplay between the olfactory and the visual takes us on a journey from her ancestral Lingnan residence in search of Lap Hung.
Lap Hung is a character Tan Jing has constructed based on her grandfather's persona. In the new four-channel video installation Nook of a Hazy Dream, 2023, Lap Hung's spirit returns to his imagined native place. Since 2019, Tan Jing has been visiting her relatives and the Chinese diaspora community in Bangkok, Thailand, recording the histories narrated by her elders. In this video work, disappearing memories converge in varying languages; they weave dialogues of the past, the future, and the present world, constructing the narrative of the film. The interplay of light and shadow on glass screens serve as windows that open to a dreamscape.
"Inlet of Arid Dreams" is a place name in Tan Jing's imagination. It refers to a transitional realm between arrival and return, reality and illusion. Here, personal desires are stranded in the landscape of memory. The artist aims to fathom these life experiences and pose questions: when dealing with diasporic individuals, how can we comprehend the complexity of their identity and emotions? Confronting traumatic experiences, what are the alternatives to the silent suppression of feelings?
Tan Jing: Inlet of Arid Dreams is organized by the Rockbund Art Museum and curated by Xu Tiantian, Curatorial Manager, with Pan Zhen, Curatorial Assistant.
Rockbund Art Museum
Tan Jing: Inlet of Arid Dreams
November 8th, 2023 - February 25th, 2024