Heidi Lau at AA|LA Gallery

Artist: Heidi Lau

Exhibition title: Blood Echoes

Venue: AA|LA Gallery, Los Angeles, US

Date: January 19 – February 23, 2019

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and AA|LA Gallery

AA|LA is pleased to present Heidi Lau: Blood Echoes, an exhibition exploring cross-generational memory, trauma, and the Taoist afterlife. Featuring three distinct yet complimentary ceramic installations, the exhibition constructs new aesthetic and conceptual identities that explore traditional Chinese folk superstitions and memories of colonialism. In reconciling these many facets of personal history, Lau presents new understandings of transcendental displacement and nostalgia as the condition of contemporary and future existence.

The centerpiece of Blood Echoes is the Han Dynasty Tomb Chamber Installation. Consisting of replicas of individual ancient relics, the works draw upon lingering but forgotten histories, and act as a threshold connecting the living and the dead. The burial robe, modeled after traditional Chinese funerary garb, consists of handmade chainmail connecting bone fragments and bodily extremities like ornaments. The grieving and hollow object suggests the liquefaction of a once traumatized body, now slipped away into the earth.

The three funeral vessels alongside the head of the burial robe contain provisions for the afterlife. A menacing spider-like figure, guards the tomb while a haunting yet beautiful snake looks down. The creatures draw upon Chinese mythology, where monsters emerge from inanimate objects and humans devolve into reptilian forms. These hybrid animal-human figures imagine a future in which the boundary between humanity and monstrosity is blurred, and human rationality is questioned.

Continuing to explore the convergence of the living and the dead, Lau’s Mountain of Knives references the 18 levels of Taoist Hell. Specifically, the works depict the mountainous terrain composed of sharp blades where sinners are thrown off cliffs. These jagged yet iridescent geological sculptures reflect the horror and sublime of the afterlife.

Lau’s video embedded inside a rock, portrays ghostly hands building clay structures surrounded by a body of flames, only to take them apart after completion. Further exploring ancient Taoist rituals and myths, Lau’s video reflects upon the primordial creation of earth by the Snake Goddess Nuwa. For Lau, time is cyclical. Her works reference the past in order to call upon the future — a revelation from the gods, and an imagination endowing the world with meaning.

Heidi Lau grew up in Macau and currently lives and works in New York. Her work has been exhibited in institutions including the Museum of Art and Design, New York; the Bronx Museum of the Art, New York; the Museum of Chinese in America, New York; and the Macau Museum of Art, etc. Her practice has been supported by numerous residencies and awards, including the Emerging Artist Fellowship at Socrates Sculpture Park, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Process Space, the Martin Wong Foundation Scholarship, The Saint John’s Pottery Jerome Foundation Emerging Artist Program, and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptor Grant. She will be representing Macau at the 58th Venice Biennale in 2019.

Heidi Lau, Blood Echoes, 2019, exhibition view, AA|LA Gallery, Los Angeles

Heidi Lau, Blood Echoes, 2019, exhibition view, AA|LA Gallery, Los Angeles

Heidi Lau, The Tomb Guardian, 2018, Glazed ceramic, 10 x 33 x 18”

Heidi Lau, Ghost Dreaming, 2018, HD video with audio inside glazed ceramic, 6 x 16 x 12 ½”

Heidi Lau, Burial Vessel 1, 2018, Glazed ceramic, 5 ½ x 7 x 6”

Heidi Lau, Burial Vessel 2, 2018, Glazed ceramic, 7 ½ x 5 x 5”

Heidi Lau, Burial Vessel 3, 2018, Glazed Ceramic, 11 ½ x 4 x 3”

Heidi Lau, The Sentinel, 2018, Glazed ceramic, 31 x 40 x 2”

Heidi Lau, Mountain of Knives 5, 2018, Glazed ceramic, 9 x 12 x 3 ½

Heidi Lau, Mountain of Knives 5, 2018, Glazed ceramic, 9 x 12 x 3 ½

Heidi Lau, Mountain of Knives 6, 2018, Glazed Ceramic, 26 ½ x 12 x 3”

Heidi Lau, Mountain of Knives 6, 2018, Glazed Ceramic, 26 ½ x 12 x 3”

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