The Earth is plummeting towards the Sun while just missing it.
The statement above describes both a lived reality and an apocalyptic miracle conjured by the imagination. Through research visits to geological sites and technological facilities—Alaska’s Denali National Park, the Tibetan plateau, San Andreas Fault Line, the Arctic Circle, SpaceX, and Biosphere 2—Alice Wang explores the uncanny dimensions of the natural world. Fossils, meteorites, beeswax, wind, vapor, plants, plasma, and byproducts of the universe’s metabolic process present themselves in a rearrangement of time and scale. From the cosmic to the geologic to the molecular, Wang transfigures materials into sculpture, actively triggering haptic, synesthetic, and time-slip experiences.
In September 2016, China began operating the world’s largest radio telescope—the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), otherwise known as Tianyan, meaning “The Eye of Heaven”—located in Guizhou. It is the first world-class radio observatory with the search for extraterrestrial intelligence as its core scientific goal. In February 2018, SpaceX launched Elon Musk’s red Tesla Roadster into space in the Falcon Heavy rocket, which is now on an interstellar path towards the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter. Listening for intelligent life in outer space with a radio telescope the size of a natural basin and sending human byproducts — and eventually human life — to an extraterrestrial planet are sci-fi realities we face. Although motivated by a deep sense of curiosity and a desire for transcendence and connection, these actualities are also fraught with darker forces of violence and domination.
Oscillating within the threshold of the real and the imaginary, Wang examines both the technologies of space exploration and the underlying desires to leave planet Earth and make contact with extraterrestrial life. The result is a quivering disorientation of one’s sense of place and scale within an otherworldly landscape, a longing for intimacy in distance, difference, and life beyond our Sun.
Alice Wang (b. 1983, Xi'an, China) studied Computer Science and International Relations, and received a BS from the University of Toronto in 2005; she also has a BFA from the California Institute of the Arts and MFA from New York University. Wang was a fellow at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, a Villa Aurora fellow in Berlin, and a recipient of several major grants from the Canada Council for the Arts. She’s had solo exhibitions at Capsule Shanghai, Human Resources (Los Angeles), 18th Street Arts Center (Santa Monica), ltd los angeles; she has presented work at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Armory Center for the Arts (Pasadena), FLAX Foundation (Los Angeles), Moscow Museum of Modern Art, K11 Art Foundation (Hong Kong), and lectured at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (Beijing), Chronus Art Center (Shanghai), and Shanghai Project. Wang is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Arts at NYU Shanghai. She co-organizes The Magic Hour, an outdoor exhibition site housed on a mesa in the high desert of Twentynine Palms, California.
To accompany her exhibition, Wang's new book, Alice Wang: An Atlas of Outer Space, published by Sming Sming Books, will launch at Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, April 11-14, 2019. She will also host a public reading at Visitor Welcome Center. More information coming soon.
Alice Wang: An Atlas of Outer Space, with an essay by Anna Milone. Published by Sming Sming Books.