A New Narrative

“Roxy,” Solo Exhibition by Gabriel Lester

Mingsheng Art Museum (bldg F, NO.570 West Huaihai Road Changning, Shanghai, China) Nov 25, 2012 – Mar 7, 2013

Gabriel Lester offers a unique experience based on our memories and imaginations, creating a dialogue between his work and the viewer. “Roxy,” at Shanghai’s Minsheng Art Museum and Lester’s first solo show in China, features two installation from 2000 and 2009 that focus on reinventing cinematographic narrative.

“How To Act” is located in the first gallery. As you walk through a two-meter-long dark corridor to the main scene, soundtracks from old classical films, such including Alfred Hitchcock, Franck Capra or Orson Welles, provides a rhythm to your steps. At the end lies an empty, dark room, 10 x 10 meters, and at the bottom of it lies a theatrical stage. Red, blue, orange ceiling lights are flashing randomly in time with the music, shaping shadow patterns on the stage floor while ambient noises and diverse old movie sounds surround the space, evoking the sensation of being in a cinema but without the images, a kind of zero-degree cinema. It invites your imagination to create a fictional, melodramatic, suspense or romance. The experience is captivating, and stimulates viewers to a new perceptual encounter with themselves, conveying a desire to engage our own imaginary story to take shape and transcend the notion of cinematographic experience without using films or videos.

“Turn of Events” (a work based on the technique developed in “The Past Catching up with the Present,” the second installation from 2009), presents a conveyor belt in a dark room on which are placed miniatures and specially handcrafted scale models. The shadows of trees, houses, cars, planes and buildings, characters on a small scale, are projected with the aid of several lamps onto the four empty walls. A moving cityscape in motion appears on the walls and transforms the entire space into a theatrical performance, in which the same scene recurs within a constantly changing perspective.

Courtesy of Minsheng Museum, copyright the artist.

“The Past” is summoned by the ancient form of shadows, “Catching up with the Present,” their themes exploring questions of environmental evolution, urbanisation, and our place in both.

(Corrections: a previous version of this text erroneously referred to the earlier work, “The Past Catching up with the Present,” rather than the exhibited work at Minsheng Museum, “Turn of Events.” The miniatures in that piece were also mistakenly referred to as “plastic”; this has now been corrected)

Courtesy of Minsheng Museum, copyright the artist.

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