Cheng Xinhao’s solo exhibition Floating Wood and Drowning Stone opens from September 4th to October 29th, 2021 in Tabula Rasa Gallery (Beijing space). As the artist’s first solo show with the gallery, this exhibition presents 9 video works focusing on “Body in Context”, including two new works, Der Rhein and Extension Line, completed during the Pro Helvetia residency project in 2021. This exhibition is curated by Wang Paopao.
To the Ocean is the beginning of a series of projects about roads and walking. Yunnan-Vietnam Railway, a meter-gage railway connecting my hometown and Vietnam, was built by French colonizers in the first decade of the 20th century. The construction started from the port city Haiphong in 1900, reached Hanoi, then extended northwest into Yunnan, and finally reached Kunming in 1910. It is the first modern transport system in Yunnan Province. Cheng lived near the Yunnan-Vietnam Railway when he was a little boy. It carried the artist’s imagination of the ocean since he was told that it ends in a port city.
The project consists of a series of walking, writing and videos. It is a polyphonic narrative about the railway, about the land of Yunnan-personal stories once happening on this land, about the colonized history of two East Asian countries, about the modernization of the mountainous areas in Southeast Asia, and also about Cheng Xinhao’s childhood memories and geographical imagination, about his connection with his hometown and the region.
December 1, 2019, Cheng Xinhao departed from Kunming. He decided to walk along the Yunnan-Vietnam Railway, of which the end is the ocean. During this journey, he picked up a piece of railway ballast for every kilometer. Eventually, it took him 19 days to cover the part of the Yunnan of the whole railway, as long as 465 kilometers. The weight of the stone on his body reached more than 20 kilograms.