Talents 26 . Lost And Found
Peikwen Cheng / Eileen Seifert
3 March to 24 April 2012
"The objective world surrounding us is not the only one possible." Paul Klee
Quaint antique carriages and souped-up sedans. Colossal letters and oversized rocking horses. Fluttering mobile sculptures and tattered sofas. Silhouettes of human forms stumbling through driving wind and swirling dust. Everything has lost its grounding and is floating in a sea of infinite white—time, space, and identity have dissolved completely. Are these bizarre scenes and objects real? Or are they nothing but figments of imagination, paradoxical chimeras? Chinese photographer Peikwen Cheng left the lights of the big American cities behind him and travelled deep into Black Rock Desert to document surreal daydreams and those who conceived them. Cheng’s black-and-white photographs are evocative of epic film sequences—familiar yet disturbing, clear yet nebulous.
All the tools of human reason are rendered impotent in the visual space of Peikwen Cheng’s photographs: they seem to be part of a different world, one that is playful and intuitive. The only constant in the series is the rough, barren landscape. The viewer tries to place the scenes and draw connections but remains in a state of uncertainty. There are some elements in the photographs that refer to the real world—all of the photographs were taken in the deserts of Nevada, unstaged and without digital editing. More precisely, they were taken at Burning Man Festival, a huge playground for the creative homo ludens who counters the rigidity and routines of everyday life with the temporary and singular experience of the event. "Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play." The concept for this subcultural event is rooted in the idea of the American counterculture that originated in the 1960s. From a cultural and technological viewpoint, this experimental and visionary idea is also directly connected to that of the American West. Peikwen Cheng’s voyage into the “Wild West” was a trip that meant leaving not just the city behind, but also familiar civilization. It is a voyage that touches the innermost core of human experience.