Now on display at the Guggenheim is Tales of Our Time, an exhibition that opens up a discourse on the concepts of geography and nation-state. The exhibition’s artists are primarily East Asian (Chia-En Jao, Kan Xuan, Sun Xun, Sun Yuan & Peng Yu, Tsang Kin-Wah, Yangjiang Group, and Zhou Tao) and their work has a site-specific focus that ranges from their homeland to remote border areas and untouched islands. Within this spectrum, notions such as territory, boundaries, and utopia crop up and are used to question the traditional understanding of place.
Tales of Our Time draws on renowned Chinese author Lu Xun’s Gushi xin bian (Old Tales Retold, 1936). In this story, ancient Chinese legends critique society, reimagine history, and shed light on contemporary issues. The line between reality and fiction is blurred by artists in the tale, thus causing disruption, drawing up new borders, demolishing old ones, and dividing communities, regions, nations, and continents in the process.
The artworks from the aforementioned artists are all new commissions. However, they don’t focus solely on China and its art scene. Social and political tensions found across the globe manifest in the works through themes such as individual and collective memory, migration and urbanization, cultural inclusion and exclusion, and technological development. “The tales told in this exhibition consider our seemingly more connected, globalized world as one that is still filled with fractured land, fragmented history, and upended traditions, but, at the same time, they also propose ways to imagine culture differently,” says the museum.