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Shen Xin


17 February 2018 - 3 June 2018

Image credit: Records of Rites 2014, Single-channel film, colour, sound, 16 min 3 sec. Courtesy of the artist, Amsterdam

In her film Record of Rites, Shen Xin begins with footage of a Christmas dinner that she attended with a friend’s family in Norway.  This blends with news clips from 2013 about a Chinese billionaire’s unrealised proposal to rebuild the Crystal Palace in London, a scheme supported by Boris Johnson, then Mayor of London.

These sequences are contrasted with another exchange between China and Euorpe; the burning of the Old Summer Palace in Beijing in 1860, ordered by British colonial diplomat Lord Elgin during the Second Opium War.  A dramatisation of this event, and modern-day representations of the Old Summer Palace’s ruins, are compared with a 2006 firework display re-enacting the Crystal Palace fire of 1936, and scenes from the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony.

The work looks at notions of  hospitality and difference.  By combining individual lived experiences with wider events, Shen examines the complexities of cultural exchange between China and Europe.  The artists narration of her impressions of being a guest enables a reflection on historic and contemporary relationships between two cultures.


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