Catalina Ouyang

Solo Exhibition "It has always been the perfect instrument" opens tonight at Knockdown Center, on view through April 12


Catalina Ouyang: it has always been the perfect instrument is a multimedia exhibition of large-scale interactive sculpture, salvaged objects, sound, moving image, and architectural intervention, as a continuation of the artist’s ongoing project [Conclusion and Findings] (2017–). In [Conclusion and Findings], Ouyang pollutes the email inboxes of hundreds of strangers and friends with a 2016 legal document that weaponized institutional language to exonerate an act of violence. The recipients are then invited to appropriate, handle, and “translate” the contents of that document back to Ouyang.


The exhibition presents sculptures made over the last two years alongside a new two-channel video installation that comprises Ouyang’s reordering of the nearly 40,000 words generated by the contributions to [Conclusion and Findings]. This exhaustive task reflects the artist’s initial struggle to make sense of polyphonic data and to comprehend a manuscript designed to create silence. The works in the exhibition, however, ultimately forego that endeavor toward consolidation and instead grow out of a space where language fails. In resisting any overarching material, disciplinary, or tonal vocabulary, it has always been the perfect instrument trades linguistic and taxonomic control for a landscape of rhythm, texture, touch, and communion.

February 29, 2020