Wu Tsang | the 59th Venice Biennale: The Milk of Dreams @ Giardini della Biennale and the Arsenale

2022.04.23 – 2022.11.27

    Antenna Space is pleased to announce that the artist Wu Tsang will participate in the 59th Venice Biennale: The Milk of Dreams. The exhibition will open on April 23, 2022 and last until November 27, 2022.

    In MOBY DICK; or, The Whale, award-winning filmmaker and visual artist Wu Tsang and her collective, Moved by the Motion, embark upon a feature-length, silent-film telling of Herman Melville’s great American novel. The film includes original music composed by Caroline Shaw and Andrew Yee with Asma Maroof, performed live by chamber orchestra during the screening.

    This adaptation, written by Sophia Al Maria and directed by Tsang, follows the white whale above and below the surface of the water, developing a visual cosmology that resists the exploration and exploitation of the earth under imperial colonialism. The narrative is interwoven with extracts by the Sub-Sub-Librarian, a character played by Fred Moten, and tackles the novel’s subterranean currents, encountering the resistance of the ship’s hydrarchy, or organizational structure, and collectives of “mariners, renegades, and castaways,” as described by historian CLR James.

    Wu Tsang is working on this legendary multi-year multidisciplinary project about Moby Dick that she is developing with the Schaspielhaus theatre in Zurich, Switzerland. For the 59th Venice Biennale, The Milk of Dreams, in addition to the screening of MOBY DICK; or, The Whale, the artist is presenting an iteration of this project titled Of Whales, in a breathtaking installation under the historical structure of the Giaggiandre, 2 covered canopies in the Arsenale complex dating back to the 16th century.

    Artistic Statement:

    OF WHALES is a dynamic oceanscape-cosmos that expands my film adaptation of MOBY DICK, exploring surreal aspects of Melville’s world mixed with the detritus of research into a postcolonial and environmental reading of the 1851 novel.

    The main inspiration is a character from my film adaptation called the Sub Sub Librarian who is a Jonah-like figure — a ‘tired old god’ that lives inside the belly of the whale. In my version the Sub Sub is a future incarnate of the young cabin-boy Pip, who journeys to the deepest depths of the sea and through a cosmos to become the narrator of the story.

    In this project, the journey of Pip/SubSub follows the diving path of a sperm whale, plunging down to non-human depths (2000+ meters) for over an hour at a time, only to resurface briefly for a breath of air and then return. The cycle of cosmos > surface > cosmos reflects the spiraling cyclical structure of the story. ”

    The video is shown on a massive, incredibly spectacular LED screen, accompanied by a sound installation. Wu has been using the virtual reality ocean environments (using UnReal and Unity software) and would like to create a real-time unfolding world inspired by the story, which plays continuously (in reference to a day-to-night cycle and the deep dive of a sperm whale).

    The Texts courtesy of the artist.

    Installation Views


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