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Our body is a troublesome thing.


We cannot ever fully see our own bodies.

we cannot see the inside and more than the facade of the outside.

We cannot see our back or our faces.


When we look in the mirror, we only see what is ‘put on’ by ourselves. Mirror is an illusion. We are incapable of viewing the face which views others. Using X-rays and a stomach camera, a doctor told me, ‘This is your stomach.’ But, those digitalised pictures and my perception of reality were incompatible. Concerning the body, much of our sensory information is absent.


I always feel like my body is shrinking for no reason.


It never changes in accordance with our own will. Perhaps no one can escape from a sense of physical closure. This sense of closure is, in particular, the sensation of the body becoming rigid. This rigidity is not due to nervousness or shame but due to the bondage of being forced to extend.


"Rigid" is the first solo exhibition in the UK by artist Ran Zhou. Uniting metal sculptures, photographs and works on paper as well as a series of curated and invited performances; Ran Zhou imagines a multi-layered space containing different absence of body - how is it torn back and forth between the body's inherent rigidity and the dominant extension of the body by technology? Through an imaginary mise-en-scène, Zhou suggest the subtle sense of privacy and gaze that operates immanently within the cycle of socialised body control and power dynamics. Together with the audience, it gazes upon the opened leg on the gynecology exam chair, the exposed sagging armpit and atrophy of triceps muscle when clothes are changed by caregivers, the unreachable back when alone; and lands on a series of absurd fantasies of our bodily extensions.


As part of Ran Zhou's reflection on post-Covid trauma, “Rigid” continues Zhou's exploration of the pharmocopornographic body, where themes of ageing, disease, sex and the absurd converge.

RIGID | Ran Zhou 

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