AboutNewsExhibitionsArtistsEventsPublicationsWeb-basedQueer RoomFor MediaShopSupportMenu
Before the beginning and after the end…
Han Qian
Before the beginning and after the end…
Apr 15, 2023
May 21, 2023
Curated by

In the exhibition Before the Beginning and After the End..., IS A Gallery is pleased to present the new video and installation works created by Han Qian in 2023. These works continue the artist's focus on her family's history and echo her solo exhibition " Video by the Sea", currently on view at the Anaya Art Centre and the Lonely Library. In the three works at the show, the artist leads the spectator through the history and transformation of a mountain range in Hebei that stretches for over a hundred miles, as well as the perception and imagination of materiality. As this journey continues, the artist returns to her hometown of Wuhan and begins to focus on the sandbar Tianxingzhou, which looks out over WISCO.

“Words move, music moves

Only in time; but that which is only living

Can only die. Words, after speech, reach

Into the silence. Only by the form, the pattern,

Can words or music reach

The stillness, as a Chinese jar still

Moves perpetually in its stillness.

Not the stillness of the violin, while the note lasts,

Not that only, but the co-existence,

Or say that the end precedes the beginning,

And the end and the beginning were always there

Before the beginning and after the end.”

In this exhibition, IS A Gallery presents a new chapter in the artist's extended journey. Through the seemingly peaceful sandbars and rivers, lost diaries and dusty archives, and the red powder from the broken red brick walls, the invisible connections between individual experience and the natural land become visible. Perhaps mountains and rivers will disappear, cities and buildings will disappear, stories and memories will disappear, but perhaps, like things that have been carried and left behind by the forces of nature such as wind and rain, rivers and glaciers, all will reveal themselves again somewhere and someday.

The artist invites the spectators to imagine the sedimentation and reappearance of stories in different narratives, searching for a hidden presence in the traces of the past. and to explore the possible paths between the individual and nature, identity and narrative.

















                 About the Artist
Han Qian received her B.A in Accademia di belle arti di Roma, Italy and M.A in École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts de Paris, Paris, France.

Han Qian's work as well as reflecting on individual perception and identity memory through multiple times and the threads of history. Attempting to present her creative projects as a constant journey between the past and the present, searching for the possibility of symbiosis and dialogues with the external world and inner experience. The artist often works with her video through photographs, documents as well as writing, the act of collecting and textual writing is a recurring metaphor in her creative practice, and the search for different perceptions of source time always pulls in her writing. The artist employs various mediums such as video, installation, performance, and text. Her current work revolves around the context of her three-generational family history, examining the genealogy of natural resources, the political discourses behind this historical narrative, and the fates of the individuals who inhabited it.

Installation view of Before the Beginning and After the End...
But heard, half-heard, 2023
Synchronous dual-channel 4k video, color & stereo channel, 13’47’’

“But Heard, Half-Heard” is in still-image and video. The story unfolds from a woman's diary spanning three years, with one screen of scenes of WISCO fad away as the ferry departs, and another screen of old photographs of the construction of WISCO during the 1958 period. both intertwining to reconstruct reality and memory that perhaps existed but was never spoken of.

Between the sound of the trumpet about to set sail and the anticipation of the journey of an imminent arrival, the people arriving from afar, the steel mill built up and the river that seems to have never changed, the slowly drifting sandbar, is echoing each other, waiting to meet.

A Rising and Falling Breath, 2023
Giclee Print

Here, Now, Always, 2023
Reversal film, slide projector, employee cards, red brick dust, sand

“A Rising and Falling Breath” is a still frame image of a Synchronous dual-channel 4k video of the same name created by Han Qian in 2023.This sandbar, which began as a deserted island, was over 800 years of history and has flooded frequently since it took shape. Today, it is one of the largest sandbars on the Yangtze section, but all that remains of the island are old people, old houses, and large reed beds.

Recently, it has continued to influence the regional landscape and the migration of human activity in processes unnoticeable to humans and continues to drift downstream at a speed that cannot be surveyed by the naked eye. Every year, during the dry season, the head of the island reveals a vast desert made of sediment transported from the upper reaches of the river, while during the high season, the head of the island is the first section to disappear and sink into the river, and therefore no buildings, crops, or farmland can remain, creating a deserted scene. At the end of the island, people could build embankments and houses, plant fruits and vegetables, and cultivate farmland because they were far away from the direct scouring force, presenting a completely different geomorphological feature and trajectory of human activities than at the head of the island.

The artist has been to the island many times recently, and she gradually feels the connection between this sandbar, which has undergone a long period of sedimentation and drift, and her encounter, in which this isolated sandbar has become an embodied image of her homeland. Therefore, in this double-frequency video, the artist attempts to use this sandbar as an entry point to the land that is connected to her life. The two scenes in the video span two seasons, the high water season and the low water season, and present the image of red brick powder floating along from the end of the island in the high water season to the head of the island in the low water season, as the artist tries sending it through the movement of the wind to the source of the sandbar, which has disappeared due to erosion.In this video, the artist strings together spatial scenes that span time, juxtaposing the forces of nature at different times - the growing vegetation and the vast desert, the working steel mills and clusters of high-rise houses, the river flowing downstream and the wind blowing upstream, the red bricks that first built the land and the red powder that collapsed and demolished it. . . they are here entwined and reshaped by unseen forces, forming a breath that rises and falls.
Here, Now, Always, 2023
Reversal film, slide projector, employee cards, red brick dust, sand

Exhibition Assistant
Zimin Lin
Exhibition Design
Zhengzhong Pan
Editorial Team
Exhibition Photography
ZhiYao Wu