Dead Cat Bounce

A muted brown robe with huge sleeves made of cotton fabric is suspended by ropes so that it forms the flat shape of  human body. It is sewn with quilted patches and fasted with yellow ribbon. Above the robe is a cream paper lantern globe which has a very large grin and two wide spaced eyes on it. The space is dark with the robe lit by warm light from small lamps on the ground and dimly lit human figures can be seen in the shadows.
Gary Zhexi Zhang and Waste Paper Opera, Dead Cat Bounce (2022). Performance at Medialab Matadero.
A figure wearing long clothing and heels boots is captured walking across a dimly lit space. The figure is silhouetted by a rack of cream shirts suspended in the air and lit by warm lighting. On the left behind other people is a column of green projected light.
Gary Zhexi Zhang and Waste Paper Opera, Dead Cat Bounce (2022). Performance at Medialab Matadero.
  Two projections in circle shapes light the floor of a darkened room. One is pale blue the other shows a graph visualisation in acid green colours. Other objects in the background are lit up but otherwise the room is atmospheric and dark. A crowd of people stand and sit within the two circular projections and objects, some caught by the light.
Gary Zhexi Zhang and Waste Paper Opera, Dead Cat Bounce (2022). Performance at Medialab Matadero.
A muted brown robe with huge sleeves made of cotton fabric is suspended by ropes so that it forms the flat shape of a human body. It is placed in a large dark space and lit from below by warm light. The space has black walls and floor, and two circular projections on the floor depict both a complex graph and a pale blue circle. In and around the robe and projections people stand or sit on the floor.
Gary Zhexi Zhang and Waste Paper Opera, Dead Cat Bounce (2022). Performance at Medialab Matadero.
A muted brown robe with huge sleeves made of cotton fabric is suspended by ropes so that it forms the flat shape of a human body. It is placed in a large dark space and lit from below by warm light. We are seeing it from behind and in the distance a screen with a turquoise rectangular colum of light is projected. People stand around the darkly lit room, some take photos on their cameras.
Gary Zhexi Zhang and Waste Paper Opera, Dead Cat Bounce (2022). Performance at Medialab Matadero.
In a dark room with unpainted brick walls a crowd of people stand around a projection on the floor that is in a circle shape and shows a complex graph
Gary Zhexi Zhang and Waste Paper Opera, Dead Cat Bounce (2022). Performance at Medialab Matadero.
  A person stands in front of a dark wall, lit only in one column of light that is a projection of thousands of pixelated green shapes.
Gary Zhexi Zhang and Waste Paper Opera, Dead Cat Bounce (2022). Performance at Medialab Matadero.

Dead Cat Bounce is a performance and installation resulting from a collaboration between artist Gary Zhexi Zhang and experimental theatre collective Waste Paper Opera (Klara Kofen and James Oldham), exploring time, finance and the unmaking of reality in the time of catastrophe. 

Installation presented in the context of Open LAB #1 Medios Sintientes at Medialab Matadero. 

The hour-long performance takes the form of an oratorio, a mode of baroque performance in which instruments and voice are used to tell a sacred narrative. 
 
The work unfolds over five vignettes of non-linear catastrophe. In China (2016), five hitmen arrive in court to discover that they have each subcontracted another to kill the same real estate developer. At the palace of Louis XVI (1788), thirty Swiss virgins are having their teeth checked in order to secure the King’s debts. In Miami (2027), an insurance broker drafts a contract for a condo that is already halfway underwater. In Jerusalem (589 BC), the prophet Jeremiah is weeping again. In earthquake-struck Edo (1855), a community pays tribute to namazu, a gigantic catfish deity, as they survey the sunlit ruins of the city.
 
Through these narratives, Dead Cat Bounce explores the links between capitalism and ritual, finance and nature, belief and manifestation. The first performance of Dead Cat Bounce was shown at Open Lab in Madrid in May 2022, at the end of the artist’s residency at Medialab.
 

Dead Cat Bounce was commissioned by Arts Catalyst in collaboration with Medialab Matadero, as part of Gary Zhexi Zhang’s recent body of work FUD.

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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.