Patty Chang — Minor
Past: November 19, 2011 → January 14, 2012
Shot in Xinjiang province in Western China two months after the riots between Uighur and Han Chinese that left over 200 people dead, Minor is a video about the indefinable properties of history, language, geological formations and adolescence.
Originally inspired by Sven Hedin’s The Wandering Lake (1930), a first person account of Hedin’s unsuccessful expedition funded by the Chinese government to “revive the old Silk Road and turn it into a motor highway” and his quest to map the “wandering” lake Lop-nor, Minor examines indeterminate and ephemeral ways in which culture and landscape are linked.
Minor (completed 2010) is a video installation of attempted journey to Lake Lop Nur, tracing the path of turn of the century explorer Sven Hedin as he tried to map the desert lake as it shifted positions and was “lost” to explorers for over a century. Unable to make my way to the site of the now evaporated lake bed, the video comprises multiple performative actions that tie together themes of communications, the body (collective/ individual), landscape and movement. Minor was shot months after the riots in Urumqi, where local Uighur minorities and Han Chinese populations clashed over growing tensions of economic and political disparity. Actions include writing words with headscarves on cotton trucks, flying a military parachute in the desert, and surreptitiously filming sleeping mummies in museums.
In Minor, I worked with local non-actors of Uighur and Chinese descent to create ephemeral sculptures manipulated by the wind: these included weaving words out of head scarves onto local cotton trucks and flying military parachutes in the desert. The act of collaboratively doing created a space of dialog. The video moves between hand held first-person perspective framing and wide landscape shots to alternate between an embodied and emotional response to communication and its lack, and a distances reflection on its consequences.