Wu Tsang: Of Whales

19 November 2022 to 29 January 2023

From 19 November, Wu Tsang’s work Of Whales (2022) is accessible free of charge in the atrium of the Gropius Bau. Derived from Tsang’s multidisciplinary research around Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick (1851), the large-scale installation features surreal marine environments and unleashes a 16-channel score in the historic atrium.

A black surface with small, bright dots with a whale fluke.

Wu Tsang, Of Whales, 2022

courtesy: the artist, Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin; Antenna Space, Shanghai; Cabinet, London © Nicholas Turki

In Of Whales, surreal ocean environments are dynamically regenerated in real time by a virtual reality game engine. A 16-channel score blends horns, saxophone, clarinet and contrabass, unleashing a soundscape that fills the entire space and invites viewers to consider their kinship with aquatic species and states of natural flux.

The installation forms part of a filmic trilogy that includes Tsang’s feature-length adaptation of Moby Dick, the maritime tale of a captain’s obsessive quest for the eponymous white whale, which Tsang reinterprets through postcolonial, queer and environmental readings of the novel.

Of Whales imagines the story from below the surface of the ocean, offering a poetic meditation on the whale’s perspective through a deep dive into an oceanic cosmos that is alluded to Melville’s tale. The ever-shifting reflections in Of Whales point to a world beyond human knowledge and perception and suggest the point of view of non-human life.

The installation is part of the exhibition YOYI! Care, Repair, Heal.