[New York, NY] September 24, 2015-WhiteBox and the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) are pleased to present the first solo exhibition in New York of Yu Lik Wai, one of the most renowned filmmakers and cinematographers working today. This co-presentation of two Lower East Side/Chinatown cultural institutions will feature a recent series of photographic prints, and a 3-channel video holographic installation titled Flux (2008) by the Hong Kong-born, Beijing-based artist, who has collaborated with directors Jia Zhangke, Ann Hui, and Lou Ye, among others. His feature films include Neon Goddesses (1996), Love Will Tear Us Apart (1999) and Plastic City (2008). The exhibition is curated by Herb Tam, Curator and Director of Exhibitions at MOCA, and Juan Puntes, Artistic Director at WhiteBox.


For years, Yu’s photography has been homologous to his filmmaking, and he joins the likes of Wim Wenders and Chris Marker as great auteur directors whose imagination extends into symbiotic forms and media in addition to narrative film. Yu’s photography, invariably informed by his existentialist narratives and charismatic cinematographic instincts, is reinforced by his masterful use of intense chromatic saturation, high contrast lighting, and unwavering dynamic framing.


Yu has been drawn to the empty, desolate built environments that mark much of China’s contemporary urban landscape. It is out of these abject and decaying vessels that he has created paradoxical noirish images: the sublime mixed with implied violence, dreamlike fantasy depicted with a documentary style bluntness. In this sense, his photographic work relates to artists such as Cao Fei, whose subject is also the frequent isolation and occasional absurdity of life in contemporary urban China.


Yu Lik Wai explains: “Over the years, I have been taking photos of empty spaces: dysfunctional apartments, abandoned factories and urban peripheries. By contemplating these desolate city fabrics, a weird fixation developed in my mind: Is there any possible kind of latent “existence” hidden inside my images? Since then, I was absorbed by the idea of reinventing imaginary human traces belonging to these barren locations.”


A public conversation with the artist, moderated by curator Herb Tam, will take place at the Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre Street, New York, NY 10013 date to be determined.


Born in 1966, Yu Lik Wai is a Chinese filmmaker and photographer who lives and works in Beijing. His directorial feature films include Love Will Tear Us Apart (1999, in competition Cannes Film Festival), All Tomorrow’s Parties (2003, Cannes Film Festival Un Certain Regard) and Plastic City (2008, in competition Venice Film Festival). During his 18-year career as a cinematographer, he has shot all of Jia Zhangke’s films to date, and has worked with Ann Hui and Lou Ye, amongst others. Yu was awarded numerous international prizes, including: Best Cinematography, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award (2008), Best Cinematography, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria International Film Festival (2004). Yu’s photographs are in the permanent collection of M+, the new museum for visual culture in Hong Kong, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography.


Curated by Herb Tam and co-curated by Juan Puntes.

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Yu Lik Wai: It’s A Bright Guilty World is made possible with generous support from Ted and Clara Wang.