He Xiangyu shot The Swim in his hometown of Kuandian, which is located next to the Yalu River that demarcates the border between China and North Korea. Making several visits over the course of a year, the artist attempted to capture what had now become for him the ‘strange reality’ of his childhood home.
Opening with lyrical sequences of the area’s beautiful landscape, the film presents interviews with several Kuandian residents including Chinese veterans who fought in the Korean War and North Korean defectors who live there illegally. Each with a unique story to tell, they reveal their daily struggle for survival and identity, tragic past experiences and their expectations for the future. Collectively they touch on the historical events that occurred in China and North Korea during the 20th century, including the Land Reform, the Civil War, the Korean War and the North Korean famine. The film ends with a highly symbolic journey in which the artist attempts to swim across the Yalu River to North Korea, in order to better understand his protagonists’ lives as well as the ‘cruelty’ embedded within this bucolic landscape.
He Xiangyu was born in 1986 in Liaoning Province, China, and lives and works in Beijing and Berlin. He graduated from Shenyang Normal University, China, in 2008. Solo exhibitions include Qiao Space, Shanghai (2017); Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2015); White Cube, London (2014); 4A Center for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney (2012); Künstlerhaus Schloß Balmoral, Bad Ems, Germany (2011) and Wall Art Museum, Beijing (2010). He has also exhibited in various group shows including Bunker #3, the Boros Collection, Berlin (2017), The 13th Biennale de Lyon (2015); Fire and Forget, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2015); Shanghai Biennale (2014); Future Generation Art Prize, Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev (2014); Busan Biennale (2014); Yokohama Triennale (2014) and 28 Chinese, the Rubell Family Collection, Miami (2013).
Contains scenes of an adult nature.
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Dates & Times
Sunday 14 April, 20194:00pm