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Gary Zhexi Zhang is an artist and writer. His recent projects have focused on financial fictions and weird temporalities in the context of catastrophe. His last solo exhibition, Cycle 25, at Bloc Projects in Sheffield, documented objects at the boundaries of speculation and nature, including natural disasters, scam nations and cosmic economies.
As a researcher, he has held fellowships at the Berggruen Institute in L.A. and Sakiya - Art Science Agriculture in Ramallah. He is a co-founder of design studio Foreign Objects, which received the Mozilla Creative Media Award in 2019. For money, he works as a “strategist”. Recent publications include Against Reduction: Designing a Human Future with Machines (MIT Press, 2021) and Catastrophe Time! (Strange Attractor Press, forthcoming).
Waste Paper Opera is an experimental music theatre collective, run by composer, researcher and performer James Oldham, and artist, writer and designer Klara Kofen. Recent works include ‘Syrup Tracing’ (2020), an Ideas of Noise commission that reimagined Cyrano de Bergerac’s 1657 science-fiction tract Voyage sur la Lune, using DNA sequences of a newly discovered dictyostelium as the basis for dramaturgy and musical material. Their first collaboration with Gary Zhexi Zhang was a Medical Research Council funded project that explored the life-cycle of parasites, which culminated in a performance entitled ‘Vorephilia’ in spring 2018 at the Cambridge Junction. For ‘‘i’-the opera’ (Tête à Tête 2017, Glasgow International 2018), they collaborated with programmer Janelle Shane on a neural network libretto.
Waste Paper Opera has hosted workshops at Central Saint Martins (OurHaus Festival – 100 Years of Bauhaus, Oct. 2019), and Limehouse Townhall (L (AI) BOUR, ‘useless l(ai)bour’, Nov.2019) and curated the interdisciplinary performance series Whole Punch at the Rosemary Branch Theatre. WPO collaborates with performers, artists, researchers and makers to create multimedia performances. Their interest centres around the potential of opera as a form of interdisciplinary making to convey and transform knowledge, and connect between fields, practices and ideas.