Guanyu Xu: Suspended Status

October 24 – December 15, 2022
Kathleen O. Ellis Gallery

Artist Talk + Q&A

Exhibition Catalog

Collect Guanyu Xu: Suspended Status exhibition catalog, Contact Sheet 219

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Guanyu Xu’s Suspended Status depicts an artist caught in a web of red tape. The work on view for this exhibition comprises images from his ongoing series, Resident Aliens, as well as a large grid of images that he calls Suspension. Both bodies of work use visa status in the United States as a means of framing images that depict people who are suspended between countries and cultures. Their futures hang on faceless state agencies in a churning political current.

In Resident Aliens, Xu makes his images inside the homes of willing participants who are visa holders. He constructs temporary installations inside their homes from previously printed images of the same interiors and an assortment of their personal ephemera and photographs. The resulting final image breaks the interior into visually puzzling quadrants. The compositions confuse the simple domestic spaces and create what appears to be a hall of mirrors that his camera captures. Suspension depicts one hundred forty-four out of more than five hundred documents that Xu collected for his O1 visa paper work. Collaged over this is a semi-cartographic digital drawing of the streets of Shanghai, Xu’s own photographic works, and collected media images that relate to the pandemic and hate crimes. Xu writes that these materials “represent the ways in which the state obscures its power and creates obstructions.”

Related Programming

An opening reception and artist talk with Guanyu Xu will be held on Thursday, October 27, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the Kathleen O. Ellis Gallery. Their exhibition catalog, Contact Sheet 219 will be available for purchase after the reception.

About the Artist

Born in Beijing in 1993, 徐冠宇 Guanyu Xu currently makes Chicago his base. He is a lecturer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His major influences are the production of ideology in American visual culture and a conservative familial upbringing in China. Xu’s practice examines the production of power in photography as well as the fate of personal freedom and its relationship to political regimes. He negotiates these questions from his perspective as a Chinese gay man. Xu makes use of photography, new media, and installation, and his work across media intentionally reflects aspects of his displaced and fractured identity. He is the recipient of the CENTER Development Grant (2021), Chicago DCASE Artist Grant (2022), Hyéres International Festival Prize (2020), Kodak Film Photo Award (2019), Lensculture Emerging Talent Award (2019), Philadelphia Photo Arts Center Annual Competition (2019), and PHOTO-FAIRS Shanghai Exposure Award (2020). He has been an artist-in-residence at ACRE (Chicago), Latitude (Chicago), and Light Work.