In Just a Blink of an Eye

Xu Zhen: In Just a Blink of an Eye, installation view at MOCA, Los Angeles, 2019; photo © codylee.co
Xu Zhen: In Just a Blink of an Eye, installation view at MOCA, 2019; photo © codylee.co

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles has acquired a work of performance art by the multimedia artist Xu Zhen. Titled In Just a Blink of an Eye, it is only the second performance for MOCA’s permanent collection of some 7,000 works of postwar art.

 

Xu Zhen: In Just a Blink of an Eye, installation view at MOCA, Los Angeles, 2019; photo © codylee.co
Xu Zhen: In Just a Blink of an Eye, installation view at MOCA, 2019; photo © codylee.co

Xu Zhen lives and works in Shanghai, producing conceptual and critical works in painting, sculpture, photography, video, installation, and performance. In 2009 he founded the MadeIn Company – a play on the phrase “Made in China” – which engages in curatorial work, research, and publications, and releases works under the brand of XU ZHEN®. The company itself is conceptual, mimicking the expansion of capitalism and art markets in China, and making the artist a product of his own corporation.

 

Xu Zhen: In Just a Blink of an Eye, installation view at MOCA, Los Angeles, 2019; photo © codylee.co
Xu Zhen: In Just a Blink of an Eye, installation view at MOCA, 2019; photo © codylee.co

The work at MOCA is comprised of four performers as living sculptures. They each appear to float in mid-air, with their arms outstretched and only a foot or two on the ground, frozen in the act of falling. While viewers walk around them, study them, and wait for movement, they remain completely still, staring up at the ceiling with blank expressions.

 

Xu Zhen: In Just a Blink of an Eye, installation view at MOCA, Los Angeles, 2019; photo © codylee.co
Xu Zhen: In Just a Blink of an Eye, installation view at MOCA, 2019; photo © codylee.co

Even if viewers guess how the performers seem to float, and that they take breaks during the regular intervals when MOCA’s gallery attendants clear the room, the illusion is never broken. Our disbelief is suspended, gravity is defied, and time has stopped.

 

Xu Zhen: In Just a Blink of an Eye is on view at MOCA on Saturdays and Sundays through September 1, 2019.