Wang Wei, 'Listen'
Edouard Malingue Project Space, London,
September - October 2019
Space design by EBBA Architects
Performative installation by conceptual artist Wang Wei (b. 1972, China) that investigates the fine line between seeing, hearing and voyeurism. First staged in Beijing in 2006 at Marella Gallery, the project addresses moments of quiet exchange, the act of seeing and listening, and how this can extend to voyeurism rather than connection. Nestled in St Saviour’s Studios, which has a 30-year history of providing studio spaces for artists, the project space designed with EBBA Architects sat as a complementary area for mutual exchange and will be accompanied by an active public programme bringing together curators, academics and audiences.
Building a connection with the environment and context, ‘Listen’ is emblematic of Wang Wei’s concern with the principle tenets of space, viewer interaction and sensory perception. Part of the artistic and curatorial ‘Post-Sense Sensibility’ movement in the late 1990s early 2000s, Wang Wei and the group had a tendency of organising underground exhibitions, at times unrehearsed, which brought his work into the realm of performance. ‘Listen’, in particular, involves a large frosted rectangular glass box in which a person stands, eavesdropping at regular intervals on the visitors. Lit from within, the person’s silhouette outlines through the glass, making them, in turn and instead, the subject of attention.
Ultimately, ‘Listen’ is not so much conceived as an artwork but rather a vehicle for identifying artifice in the context of everyday life. Through the focus on exchange, interaction and visibility, the viewer is prompted to reflect on effective communication and connection. Furthermore, it encourages a quiet yet sensitive sense of awareness – a mode that extends beyond this installation to the rest of the project series and more widely our daily ongoings.
Exhibition accompanied by a public programme including collaborations with Ying Tang (Curator, Visual Arts, British Council now Head of Public Art, Future City), En Liang Khong (Frieze Magazine), Joseph Constable (Associate Curator, Serpentine Gallery).
Wang Wei, ‘Listen’, 2019, images courtesy Edouard Malingue Gallery