Xiaowen Zhu is a Berlin-based artist, filmmaker, and writer. She considers herself as a visual poet, social critic, and aesthetic researcher. Her work combines moving images, photography, and writing to communicate the complex experience of being a diasporic person and to explore notions related to migration, identity, and the politics of memories.
Xiaowen’s work has been widely shown internationally, including at the Fowler Museum (Los Angeles, USA), the USC Pacific Asia Museum (Los Angeles, USA), Lund Museum (Lund, Sweden), Berlin Art Week, ZKM | Center for Art and Media (Karlsruhe, Germany), Whitechapel Gallery (London, UK), Whitstable Biennale (Whitstable, UK), Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum (Beijing China), Chronus Art Center (Shanghai, China) and Art Basel Hong Kong.
Xiaowen was a visiting artist at Rhode Island School of Design, New York University, University of Southern California, University of California, Los Angeles, Lund University, University of Westminster, Tongji University, Tsinghua University, and Fudan University. She has taught at the British Film Institute's Film Academy, Syracuse University, and Marymount California University.
Xiaowen has received numerous awards, including TASML Artist Residency Award, Marylyn Ginsburg Klaus Fellowship, Jury Award of DOK Munich, Jury Award of Mexico International Documentary Film Festival, among others. She has been an artist-in-residence at ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany, and V2_Institute for the Unstable Media, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. In addition to all of this, her writing has been widely published.
The Last Wildfire began as a photography series to investigate the aftermath of the 2018 California wildfires, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire season on record on the west coast. Focusing on the natural area surrounding Idyllwild, a small, idyllic town set among tall pines and legendary rocks, nestled in the San Jacinto mountains, the project intends to create a juxtaposition between the widely advertised “peace and quiet of Idyllwild” and the deadly, destructive wildfires. Since humans have been recorded as the main cause of wildfires in California, The Last Wildfire is unlikely to be “the last one”, yet, more and more urbanists (who have succeeded financially in Los Angeles or San Francisco) set out to build their perfect retreat in the high country, while lacking considerations for infrastructures to reduce the risk of wildfires.
When Xiaowen first told us of this project, and sent us these images, we were blown away. Never before have I seen so clearly, nature "in revolt" at human activity. This project is timely and important work. It deserves to be seen and shared precisely because it holds a mirror up to our world and what we are doing to it. The spread of the fire was incredibly quick, and catastrophic.
This project is ongoing precisely because there will be more wildfires. If our leaders, institutions and multi-national corporations turn blindly away from the threat of climate change and global warming, nature itself will force the issue.
- Kitty Dinshaw, Artist Director and Co-Curator
This project is twofold: a visual response and a poetic response. Both are contained in the photobook in the video below, and in addition, Subject Matter have selected the four works above as limited edition photography prints.
Please email Kitty - firstname.lastname@example.org - if you'd like some more information about the project, or to purchase the photobook.