An Atlas of the Difficult World


Artist: Mimosa Echard, Leelee Chan, Chen Wei, David Douard, Feng Zhixuan, Gong Jian, Jiang Pengyi, Liao Fei, Liao Guohe, Antoni Muntadas, Shao Chun, Sydney Shen, Vivian Suter, Wolfgang Tillmans, Inga Svala Thórsdóttir & Wu Shanzhuan, Yang Jian, Wu Tsang, Patty Chang & David Kelley.

The Macalline Center of Art is pleased to present the spring exhibition, An Atlas of the Difficult World, on view from March 24th through June 30th, 2024. Showcasing videos, paintings, installations, sculptures and other art forms, this exhibition will feature works across various mediums by 20 artists of different nationalities and spanning multiple generations. The title alludes to the poignant collection of poems by American feminist poet Adrienne Rich (1929-2012). The exhibition is a tentative response to the tumultuous and unfathomable conditions of today’s world, illustrating the deep-seated conflicts and anxieties of the times we live in while at the same time, summoning a hope sparked by individual activism and creativity.


Rich’s collection of poems vividly charts the genesis of a world rife with unsettling visions. Amidst that “fissured, cracked terrain”* lies the “wreckage, dreck and waste,”** and yet these ruins become, paradoxically and suitably, the very “materials” for her poetry. Like Rich, the artists of An Atlas of the Difficult World share a fascination with the ruins of reality they find in their surroundings. Whether pertaining to the body, emotion, technology, or nature, these fragments are snipped from diverse histories and marked by disparate textures and structures; nevertheless, as “materials” for artistic creation, they are extracted, refined, and reshaped into something new. An Atlas of the Difficult World prophecies an unstable poetics—a superimposed and polyphonic consciousness that allows the energy of art to cling to the images that refract light off one another: a segment of animal skeleton rendered in metal, a group of Filipina maids playing card games, a submarine that is incapable of sinking...Each carries remnants of the world’s secrets.


An Atlas of the Difficult World is a micro-universe that mirrors reality. Within this miniature world, the fragile, vulnerable, and insignificant find resonance with the solemn, grand, magnificent. Each work harbors a hidden narrative, an ever developing illusion, and a specific moment both indescribable and profound. During the exhibition, MACA’s gallery space will temporarily transform into a work-in-progress, inviting the audience to step into a time-space where rupture and connection coexist. Here, they are encouraged to lean into a certain deliberate sense of “loss” and “discomfort”, and when they are unsure of where to go next to turn their gaze inward to contemplate their own existence, allowing themselves to experience the revelatory power of art.


The works exhibited in An Atlas of the Difficult World are all from the collections of MACA and its founder, Che Xuanqiao. The exhibition is jointly curated by Yang Beichen (Director of MACA), Huang Wenlong (Curator at MACA), and Wang Jianan (Assistant Curator at MACA).


*and** are excerpted from the first part of the collection’s titular poem, An Atlas of the Difficult World.

The Macalline Center of Art (MACA) is a non-profit art institution located in the 798 Art District of Beijing and officially inaugurated its space on January 15, 2022. Occupying a two-story building with a total area of 900 square meters, MACA unites artists, curators, and other art and cultural practitioners from around the world. Through its diverse, ongoing, and collaborative approaches, the Center establishes a new site on the contemporary art scene. Guided by the “work of artists” and backed by interdisciplinary research, the Center aims to bring together a community passionate about art and devoted to the “contemporary” moment so as to respond proactively to our rapidly evolving times.