In Just a Blink of an Eye (2005/2021) is one of the most significant artworks by Xu Zhen, a leading figure in Chinese contemporary art. In Just a Blink of an Eye explores the notion of temporality, freezing time and space by portraying a human figure that appears suspended mid-fall through means kept out of the visible eye—for hours at a time. In the presence of the work, we experience how it must feel to have time stand still, urging us to contemplate questions of personal existence and the constructed reality of the viewing experience.
Xu’s conceptually-driven works encompass a vast range of media and often employ humour, irony, and sophisticated optical illusion and deception. With In Just a Blink of an Eye, the audience waits for movement and the presumably inevitable moment the figure will either stand up or fall to the ground. Yet, as the moment of suspension stretches on, they instead experience time and stillness.
In Just a Blink of an Eye has previously been presented at The Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, USA, 2019); National Gallery of Australia (Canberra, Australia, 2020); Art Basel (Basel, Switzerland, 2014) and Hayward Gallery (London, UK, 2012). The landmark artwork was also recently featured by Vogue (March 2020 issue, USA edition) with a photo of the pop singer Billie Eilish as the floating subject.
of Artist Xu Zhen and MadeIn Company
Photo Credits: Andri Pol, Photography
Curated by Klaus Biesenbach & Hans Ulrich Obrist
Presented in Basel by Fondation Beyeler, Art Basel, Theater Basel in 2014.