A curtain, that is a room on Uranus: Alfredo Aceto, Jenkin van Zyl

23 September - 21 October 2023

Hua International is pleased to present A Curtain, that is a Room on Uranus by Alfredo Aceto and Jenkin van Zyl.The exhibition draws inspiration from the writings of Paul B. Preciado and José Esteban Munoz. In his canonical An Apartment on Uranus text, Preciado chronicles a metaphorical journey to an alien and distant place, symbolizing the radical departure from normative understandings of identity and society. A curtain, that is a room on Uranus transplants Preciado’s fictious apartment on Uranus into the gallery’s exhibition spaces in Beijing, imagining an affective architecture that foments spaces of fluidity, multiplicity, and desire—feeling queerness, as Esteban Munoz writes, as “the warm illumination of a horizon imbued with potentiality […] a mode of desiring that allows us to see and feel beyond the quagmire of the present.”


Jenkin van Zyl’s multidisciplinary practice spans film, performance, sculpture, and fashion. His erotic, often grotesque works draw upon the genres of horror, science fiction, and gore—exploring how desire and fantasy can provide a queer compass to navigate a harsh, non-linear world. His contributions to the exhibition at Hua International’s Beijing location build upon his ongoing engagement with the motif of the “rat king,” which appears in multiple works by the artist. The term rat king describes when rodents’ tails become tangled or stuck together, a phenomenon which for van Zyl represents a kind of "networked body or collective organism." Visitors enter the exhibition through his inflatable sculpture Palace of Wasted Footsteps, an outsized silver rat’s head that recalls the “hellmouths” used in medieval art and theater to depict a passage to the underworld or dark, shadowy realms. Here, van Zyl’s contemporary approach to the hellmouth leads visitors to a massive curtain bearing a series of works by Alfredo Aceto entitled Egg Human.

Unlike the outrageous cast of human and non-human characters who populate the otherworldly sci-fi tinged universe of van Zyl’s video Curtain Call, Aceto’s Egg Human features a deceptively conservative figure: various replications of a person clad in a collared shirt and tie who performs different exercises with his tongue. Mouths appear frequently in Aceto’s work, both as a sensual orifice and a means of communication and expression. Egg-Human is one of a number of the artist’s work that draws upon the therapeutic myofunctional exercises of the speech pathologist Daniel Garliner to explore how the tongue, through its extreme sensitivity, can be both an object and a surface through which to experiment with sensation and the body. His video installation FSHH FSHH, also on view in the exhibition, depicts two pairs of men’s hands as they move atop one another in an attempt to collectively knot a striped necktie—a charged object that symbolizes the dominant heteronormative order while also operating as “a fetishized vector of queer emancipation and eroticism.” 
Installation Views