Shop the Show: Artist Yuan Keru’s Melancholic, Futuristic Video Installations Explore the Lingering Effects of Societal Calamity

The artist's solo exhibition “Traces of the Afterimage” is currently on view at Beijing’s SPURS Gallery.

Installation view
Installation view "Yuan Keru: Traces of the Afterimage,” 2021. Courtesy of SPURS Gallery.

Every month, hundreds of galleries showcase new exhibitions on the Artnet Gallery Network—and every week, we shine a spotlight on the exhibitions we think you should see. Check out what we have in store, and inquire for more with one simple click.

 

What You Need to Know: In her first solo exhibition “Traces of the Afterimage with Beijing’s SPURS Gallery, multimedia artist Yuan Keru presents two video installations created over the course of the pandemic. Each traces experiences of illness and trauma in ways that reflect, directly or indirectly, the state of the world. On the first floor, the film Guest of the Mist 2037 (2020–21) presents imagined scenes from a mental hospital in the year 2037, as patients continue to process the pandemic. The installation takes inspiration from Portuguese writer José Saramago’s novel Blindness, which tells the story of a blindness plague that upends society.

On the second floor of the gallery is Eternity and Transience (2021), the first film in an ongoing research project the artist is undertaking with journalist Yu Yaqin to explore her family’s history of Hepatitis B. Here, three screens each present someone affected by the disease: a mother in a mother-to-child infection, a young woman who lost a parent, and an unemployed jobseeker experiencing illness. In the film, each person takes a short walk by the sea, where they describe their regrets, sorrows, and resolutions.   

Installation view "Yuan Keru: Traces of the Afterimage,” 2021. Courtesy of SPURS Gallery.

Installation view “Yuan Keru: Traces of the Afterimage,” 2021. Courtesy of SPURS Gallery.

Why We Like It: Yuan uses cinema as a means to explore the individual and aesthetic experiences of societal calamities. Her films are staged within larger artistic tableaux in the gallery space, which integrate painting, sculptural installation, and light effects, fostering a complex sensorial experience. 

Yuan’s work contains myriad allusions to history, mythology, and the work of other artists and writers. Like Guest of the Mist 2037, Eternity and Transience has a literary tie, the artist invited writer Wu Qihua to compose a novella, which came to be named Cottage, Island, and Dragon Well Lane and can be read in the galleries. In another part of the exhibition, the artist pays homage to Zhang Xianzhu, who filed the first anti-discrimination case in China regarding Hepatitis-B infection. 

In Yuan’s alluring artistic world, melancholy, drama, and violence all act in strange harmony. 

What the Gallery Says: “’Afterimage’ is a form of visual illusion. After gazing for a long time at a visual stimulus, a trace remains in the brain for a short time after that visual stimulus has left the field of vision. In this exhibition, the artist expands this term to lingering traces of trauma on the psychological level, describing how illness remains in one’s life like a shadow, a spectral presence, even after recovery, with a lasting impact on oneself and one’s familial and social relations.”

Browse works by the artist below.

 

Yuan Keru
Towards Where the Twilight Goes Erasing Statues (2021)
Inquire for More Information

Yuan Keru, Towards Where the Twilight Goes Erasing Statues (2021). Courtesy of Spurs Gallery.

Yuan Keru, Towards Where the Twilight Goes Erasing Statues (2021). Courtesy of SPURS Gallery.

 

Yuan Keru
When What Is Seen Is as Bright as What Is Heard (2021)
Inquire for More Information

Yuan Keru, When What Is Seen Is As Bright As What Is Heard (2021). Courtesy of Spurs Gallery.

Yuan Keru, When What Is Seen Is As Bright As What Is Heard (2021). Courtesy of SPURS Gallery.

 

Yuan Keru
Phantom of the Metaphor (2021)
Inquire for More Information

Yuan Keru, Phantom of the Metaphor (2021). Courtesy of Spurs Gallery.

Yuan Keru, Phantom of the Metaphor (2021). Courtesy of SPURS Gallery.

 

Yuan Keru
Guest of the Mist 2037 (2020–21)
Inquire for More Information

Film still from Guest of the Mist 2037 by Yuan Keru (2020–21). Courtesy of Spurs Gallery.

Film still from Guest of the Mist 2037 by Yuan Keru (2020–21). Courtesy of SPURS Gallery.

 

Yuan Keru
Will the Sun Rise Tomorrow? (2021)
Inquire for More Information

Yuan Keru, Will the Sun Rise Tomorrow? (2021). Courtesy of Spurs Gallery.

Yuan Keru, Will the Sun Rise Tomorrow? (2021). Courtesy of SPURS Gallery.

 

Yuan Keru: Traces of the Afterimage” is on view at SPURS Gallery through January 16, 2022. 


Follow Artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.

Share