Mengxi Zhang

During a whirlwind trip to London a couple of weeks ago, and during my slow re-integration back into social-work life (given, a trip to London is never slow), I tried to cram in as many exhibitions and shows into one day, one of which was Mengxi Zhang‘s solo exhibition ‘Guangzhou Edge’ at Camera Cafe, London. I briefly chatted with the cafe’s owner, Adrian Tang, about her work and she seems to be receiving a lot of attention right now. One to keep an eye on I reckon…

Mengxi Zhang is a Chinese photographer and artist who has lived in the UK for the past eight years. She was raised in Guangzhou, where this series of photographs – ‘Guangzhou Edge’ – represents a recent re-engagement with the city. Her work comments simply and intimately with the architectural fabric of Guangzhou, its hidden fractures that usually go unnoticed…it highlights buildings and structures that would never be put on a pedestal or isolated in camera’s viewfinder to be put on show. The industrious nature of China plays against traditional reference points such as statues and signs. To me, it becomes a visual diary of her encounters with a city she once knew, a reframing and rediscovery of the space and place of the city. It is also an understanding of water and earth, the natural and constructed worlds that exist side by side, hand in hand as friends, then at times as with many new architectural interventions as enemies. How do we keep up with these architectures of change? Or even begin to make sense of it when it is happening so frenetically? Alongside the exhibition was the rather beautiful newspaper-style publication called ‘350km/h’. In October 2012, Mengxi went back to China to her parents hometown for the winter. This was the first time she had been there in more than a decade where, she took the high-speed rail for the first time visiting Chongqing, Hangzhou, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. ‘350km/h’ again acts like a diary, intimately documenting her experiences with silent consideration. I have invited her to part of my forthcoming show and project ‘The Temporary: 01’, which I will be announcing over the Christmas period, meeting her in person at the end of the week. Watch this space – as always.

“Having everything postponed in my usual life in England while in China, I was trying to understand my mixed feelings towards this fast changing and familiar-yet-distant motherland of mine. ” – Mengxi Zhang

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