*A Chicago Asian Network (CAN) Sponsored Event*
A Luminous Electronic Art Installation Combining Ancient Poetry and Modern Anime—Equal Parts Comic Book, Motion Picture, and Meditation on History—Presented as a Futurist Fantasy
Kongkee: Warring States Cyberpunk features the work of London-based Chinese artist and animation director Kong Khong-chang, known as Kongkee. Through multi-screen videos, wall projections, neon installations, vibrant graphic works, narrative texts, and ancient Chinese objects, the exhibition tells the story of legendary poet Qu Yuan, who lived during the Warring States Period (c. 481-221 BCE), as his soul journeys from the ancient Chu Kingdom to a retro-futuristic Asia where he is reborn as an android in a psychedelic cyberpunk landscape. Originally conceived by Kongkee as a comic series in 2013, the exhibition transports viewers into an imaginary world where past and future collide. This exhibition is presented by Alphawood Exhibitions at Wrightwood 659, from April 14 to July 15, 2023.
Kongkee: Warring States Cyberpunk is organized by the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and curated by Abby Chen, Senior Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.
"Kongkee starts his creative process by researching and allegorizing the historical figures of the Warring States period,” explains Chen. “He brilliantly draws ancient artworks into his own dazzling vision, revealing how the past haunts the present and helping us imagine what a vibrant strain of ‘Asian Futurism’ can look and feel like: one full of energy, music, and color that creatively entwine the enigma of the past with caution toward cutting-edge technologies yet to be discovered.”
Installed on the third and fourth floors of Wrightwood 659, the exhibition traces the life of Qu Yuan (c. 339 – 278 BCE), one of ancient China’s most revered poets. As the legend tells, Qu Yuan had been a trusted advisor of King Huai of Chu, ruler of one of the Warring States from 328 to 299 BCE, until the poet was banished. Left in despair, Qu Yuan eventually drowned himself in the Miluo River, a tributary of the Yangtze. Qu Yuan’s legacy is so important he is celebrated every year in Chinese communities around the world in the famous Dragon Boat Festivals—which originated as a search for the poet’s body. In the immersive world of Warring States Cyberpunk, Kongkee resurrects the poet’s soul, transforming him into an android who struggles with implanted memories from his past life. The android ponders the duality of death and immortality, the body and the soul, and what it is to be human—or machine.
Also on View at Wrightwood 659 Running concurrently with Kongkee: Warring States Cyberpunk are two additional exhibitions: Shahidul Alam: Singed But Not Burnt and Patric McCoy: Take My Picture.
New Hours of Operation (Starting April 14, 2023)
Thursdays 1-8 pm; Fridays 12 noon-7 pm; Saturdays 10 am-5 pm
Admission for all three exhibitions is $15 and available online only at https://tickets.wrightwood659.org/events. Please note, admission is by advance ticket only. Walk-ups are not permitted.
Wrightwood 659 (659 W. Wrightwood, Chicago, IL 60614)