Chris Paul Daniels: A Tiger’s Skin
18 December 2014 – 22 March 2015
‘You can depict a tiger’s skin but not his bones’ is one of the last lines in ‘Chung Kuo, Cina’ the 1972 documentary by Michelangelo Antonioni, both commissioned and banned by Chairman Mao. By reframing the text from Antonioni’s film with contemporary images, Chris Paul Daniels has created a work that examines the rapidly changing way China is viewed through western eyes, and in doing so, questions assumed notions of ‘truth’ and ‘understanding’ within documentary film-making.
Whilst visiting China, Daniels’ documentations were framed by the 1972 film, which served as a literal guide during a four week journey around multiple cities. Based on the text of Antonioni’s and Andrea Barbato’s narration, Chris Paul Daniels has constructed an observational update of some of the same architectural subjects and specific geographical locations; revealing not just the enormous shifts that have taken place within Chinese society, but importantly, the dramatic changes in the Western perception of China.
‘A Tiger’s Skin’ questions the authenticity of the documentary format and addresses the anxiety of wider truth within film in representing reality. By observing the changes in time and space by revisiting the same locations forty years on from their original documentation, contradictions, misunderstandings and assumptions inherent to authoring filmic reality around a preconceived narrative are exposed.
In the residency space, Daniels presents three short sequences documenting the specific viewpoints from hotel rooms where he stayed in Hong Kong, Chongqing and Macau. The frenetic actions of the metropolitan spaces rapidly shift between day and night and expose the scale of the collective habitats within view.