London | Beijing
2022 Diaspora as History
13 - 19 June, 2022 
Stand 32

For LISTE Art Fair Basel 2022, Tabula Rasa Gallery is delighted to announce the solo presentation “2022 Diaspora as History” of the multimedia artist & activist aaajiao .

“Disapora as History” explores the senses and sentiments of artist himself, a person struggling to remain mobile in his identity. The sense of identity dilemma derives from the notion of being a place-based Sinitic speaker, who seeks identity independence from his national origins and his use of language. Further influenced by recent literatures in Sinophone studies, aaajiao presents us a visual thesis about the evolution of his identity and the world he sees. It responds to his personal experience, the socio-political tension specific to Chineseness, and his dual existence on the Internet and in this world.

I was born on the Internet, I was dead on the Internet, I was reborn on the Internet.

I cannot simply hide my identity dilemma with my Internet identity. I record my identity evolution and reveal the hidden part via icons. Icon is also my way of seeing. After I experienced the gradual detachment from my racial and national identity while using the language (Chinese), my nostalgia becomes place-based. It originates in Berlin and in the cyberspace. In the same time, the community of Sinophone that comprises of Continental Colonialism, Settler Colonialism, and [Im]migration emerges before my eyes, which in here, I try to collect these landscapes in a cyberised Ukiyo-e.

In 2018, my icon was a half Northern-Han Chinese, half Tibetan Naxi User. The construct of national identity is an act of divination from big data DNA analysis.
In 2019, my icon was a distant Mainland Chinese observer of Hong Kong, a ghostly witness in Europe.
In 2020, my icon was a player who sees the world reconstituted by computing power while trapped in the identity of Chinese diaspora.
In 2021, my icon was a hybrid form of a half-dead User on social media and a player awaiting for his reborn.
In 2022, my icon attempts to be a mobile presence of a place-based Sinitic speaker, who is wary of falling into the discrete ideology of Perpetual Foreigners and a forced self-Minoritisation.                                                                                    

Shanghai entered a draconian city-wide lockdown in April 2022 in a take-no-prisoner attempt to enforce China's nationwide "Zero Covid" policy. As a result, my friends, my colleagues and my LISTE-bound artworks were trapped in the city. Over the last two months, even though I stayed in Berlin, my emotional experience was in sync with Shanghai's, overwhelmed with feelings of absurdity, grief, despair and numbness every day.

The planned exhibition Diaspora as History envisions self-emancipation and self-empowerment. It acts as an escape from the pains and tragedies of contemporary China and restores one's ability to express freely. However, the lockdown of Shanghai is attempting to imprison me again. I do not want to give in. I want to give my artworks another means of escape and come to LISTE, least of all to share our courage with people who choose to live free.


Artists often stage interventions in life, but sometimes life intervenes in art and the artist has to decide how to respond. We fully support aaajiao's decision to present his original digital installation at LISTE as a mural in this challenging situation. Adaptation and flexibility as a strategy for resilience are rooted in Chinese thought, as Bruce Lee taught us: be water.

Tabula Rasa & aaajiao also thank LISTE for their full support to this unusual presentation at our stand this year. 

Tabula Rasa Gallery (London)
Unit One, 99 East Road,
Hoxton, London
N1 6AQ
Tuesday - Saturday 12:00 - 18:00 | Sunday - Monday Closed

© 2022 Tabula Rasa Gallery

Tabula Rasa Gallery  (London)