Lu Chunsheng
History of Chemistry I

A mesmerizing experience of a vaguely familiar yet remote world, History of Chemistry I follows a group of men as they wander from somewhere beyond the edge of the sea through a vast landscape to an abandoned steel factory. Using long shots and atypical settings, Lu Chunsheng enigmatically refers to a distant history while conveying the sense of dislocation wrought by successive stages of modernization. The combination of elaborate landscape shots from the suburbs of Shanghai and Lu’s signature style of spare and minimally crafted acting offers a surreal view of human behavior in spaces marked by the hulking remnants of China’s extraordinary development.


A particularly generative aspect of Lu Chunsheng’s work is the way it breaches the boundary between documentary and fiction. Rather than merely illustrate it, his conceptual and methodological coherence broadens and extends his inquiry into everyday life. Unlike many of his fellow artists who emerged from the same generation, Lu does not focus on the alienation inherent to an accelerated urbanization and its stream of rapidly moving images and perplexed inhabitants.