Patty Chang’s video installation examines the idea of Shangri-La, the mythical hamlet of James Hilton’s 1933 novel, Lost Horizon. The novel and the subsequent film by Frank Capra (1937) propelled the notion of Shangri-La into the collective cultural vocabulary. In 1997, a rural farming town in South Central China near the Tibetan border began to declare itself the place upon which Hilton’s Shangri-La was based. Subsequently a dozen other towns in the area claimed that they were the real Heaven-On-Earth, resulting in a relentless marketing battle until the Chinese government intervened by officially naming one town Shangri-La. Chang’s Shangri-La is about the reality and fiction inherent in the idea of a place that exists in both real and mythical incarnations. Her work explores the idea of making a real journey to an imaginary place.
The installation centers on a video approximately thirty minutes in length, shot on location in Shangri-La. A number of other elements are in an adjacent gallery, primarily a large sculpture of a mirrored mountain mounted on a rotating platform. Chang describes this sculpture as “kind of a giant sacred mountain prayer wheel crossed with a disco ball.”
The exhibition is organized by Russell Ferguson, chief curator at the Hammer Museum.
Hammer Musuem, Los Angeles
June 25 – October 16, 2005
New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York
July 8 – September 10, 2005
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
May 20 – August 20, 2006
Patty Chang: Shangri-La is part of the Three M Project—a series by the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York to commission, organize and co-present new works of art. Generous support for the series has been provided by the Peter Norton Family Foundation and the American Center Foundation.
Patty Chang: Shangri-La also received support from Altria Group, Inc. and Susan and Leonard Nimoy. Patty Chang received a Media Arts Fellowship, supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, for this project.
Special thanks to Jekel Vineyards, Skyy90, Bel Arbor Vineyards, and Bohemia Imported Beer for their contributions to the opening reception.