Tiffany Sia, the closely-watched artist and filmmaker, has a solo exhibition at Maxwell Graham in New York City. The show, with the evocative title Technical Difficulties, presents three installations by Sia that evoke a film which has not yet been made, or might never be made, due to a conjunction of various difficulties.

The piece An Image on Air consists of an unassuming surtitle board, such as those used for live translation in theaters for operas or plays, that is mounted on the front window of the gallery. Inspired by a statement made by the celebrated Canadian media philosopher Marshall McLuhan, the installation transmits a series of subtitles which provide subtle commentary to the natural scenes that move past the gallery window, highlighting the ephemerality that permeates our perception of modern communication.

After engaging with the preambulatory lecture that An Image on Air provides, viewers must go to the lower level of the gallery to engage with the remaining two pieces. In them, one can see the fusion of rigorous media theory and personal narrative which are characteristic of Sia's work. The three-channel installation A Journey from North to South is reminiscent of the wuxia films that are a staple of Chinese cinema. Taking on the form of a 22-hour road trip across highways in Mississippi, which is documented on a black-and-white dashcam, the scenic imagery is only cut off by brief stops at a Chinese cemetery near Greenville and ending at Biloxi.

Tiffany Sia, A Child Already Knows, 2024. Video, 33 min. Image courtesy of the artist.

The third installation, A Child Already Knows, features a bulky monitor that screens a 33-minute video. The monitor is set on the floor with a gray carpet in front of it, which invites the viewer to lie down on their stomach and view the piece. The installation combines footage of mid-century Chinese cartoons interspersed with subtitles with the sound of a train gliding down a railroad that loops through the screening. It serves as a narrative vehicle that conveys how a young child experienced moving from Shanghai to Hong Kong during the period after the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) but preceding the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).

Tiffany Sia, who was raised in Hong Kong, is known for her short films which delve into the interstitial worlds that inhabit the socio-political realm and mainstream media practices. Her work has been exhibited at Artists Space, New York; Felix Gaudlitz, Vienna; Fondazione Prada, Italy; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Technical Difficulties is on view at Maxwell Graham through June 22, 2024. More information about the exhibition can be found here.

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