Shu Lea Cheang UKI
21 – 22 July 2023
It's the year 2060, what do you do with expired humanoids?
LAS is pleased to present a two-day screening and event programme celebrating the Berlin premiere of Shu Lea Cheang's latest feature film UKI (2009–2023). The film is the culmination of Cheang's artistic exploration of viral love, bio-hacking, and queer imagination over the past fourteen years. LAS's presentation expands UKI’s cinematic world through sound and live performances by artists who played a key role in the film. The programme takes place parallel to Berlin Pride Month, and precedes a survey exhibition of Cheang's works organised by LAS for 2024.
UKI grapples with institutional oppression, gender politics, social inequality, and pollution, and proposes queer visions of the future — thematics Cheang has been exploring for forty years. The film tells the story of Reiko — a decommissioned humanoid replicant — in the year 2060. GENOM Corporation developed Reiko to collect orgasm data. Discarded and dumped in the toxic wasteland of E-Trashville, Reiko is rebuilt, rebooted, and transformed with the help of other mutants, replicants, and E-Trashville residents. In a parallel timeline, in a city plagued by a viral infection and social unrest, customers at a local diner sip coffee and discuss current events. GENOM Corporation and their ads are ubiquitous, promising a solution and cure in exchange for access to their DNA and biodata. Meanwhile, they harvest orgasm data to create new pharmaceuticals to control the population. Will Reiko be able to stop GENOM's devious plan?
UKI was conceived in 2009 and completed during the pandemic. Many themes appear to be responsive to current events, but are by no means new to Cheang's work. Living in New York in the 1980s and 90s, Cheang was deeply influenced by her experiences during the AIDS epidemic. While so many members of the queer community fell victim to the deadly virus, pharmaceutical companies and governments withheld life-saving drugs that those affected could not afford. Cheang's work has always focused on the lives and experiences of marginaliszed groups and their struggles against hostile or indifferent social systems, governments, and corporations. An early important work of net art is Brandon(1998–1999) It tells the true story of Brandon Teena, a Nebraska man who was brutally raped and murdered after his transgender identity was revealed. Later works use science fiction as a tool to establish queer and anti-colonial notions, and approach hacking as a framework to regain agency and autonomy.
Alongside the screenings, LAS will present an accompanying installation and events programme to expand upon UKI’s cinematic universe. On Friday 21 July 2023 Cheang will be joined by queer cultural theorist João Florêncio for an introductory panel discussion, followed by the film screening. On Saturday 22 July 2023, a musical programme inspired by UKI and I.K.U.’s soundtracks will feature live performances and jam sessions by Royal Dust, Mieko Suzuki, Dennis Gundlach, Saint Precious, Rey KM Domurat and Tobias Freund, led by Aérea Negrot, a Venezuelan singer, electronic musician and producer who adapted the score of I.K.U. for UKI.
Film duration: 80 minutes
Friday, 21 July 2023
19:00: Doors open
20:00: Introduction and panel discussion with Shu Lea Cheang and João Florêncio
21:30: Screening of UKI
22:50 – 01:00: Performance with Tyra Wigg, Asia-James Ryan Ryyves Thomas, Alan Chen, Jin , Bernard J. Butler, Sky Deep, and Ioana Vreme Moser
Saturday, 22 July 2023
20:00: Doors open
21:00: Welcome address with Shu Lea Cheang and LAS Art Foundation
21:30: Screening of UKI
23:00 – 05:12 (sunrise 23 July): DJ sets & sound performances
For this Last Neurone all night party, UKI music producer Aérea Negrot will be joined by Royal Dust, Dennis Gundlach, Mieko Suzuki, Tobias Freund, Saint Precious, Rey KM Domurat for a night of remixes and live jam. The people are invited to move, to celebrate, to dance under the dome of Kranzler Eck in Berlin. The evening ends at sunrise at 5:12am, with breakfast served on the terrace.
Each artist (or team) has a 40 minute solo, each solo performance leads to an impro/jam session (20 minutes) led by Aérea Negrot.
Shu Lea Cheang
Shu Lea Cheang is an artist and filmmaker. Her genre-bending, gender-fluid practice challenges existing structures and the limits imposed on individuals by society, the environment, politics, and the economy. Her project BRANDON (1998–1999) established her as a pioneer of net art: it is the first online artwork commissioned and collected by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. Cheang’s feature-length films FRESH KILL (1994), IKU (2000), and FLUIDø (2017) collectively helped define a new genre of queer sci-fi cinema. In 2019, Cheang represented Taiwan at the 58th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, with her work 3x3x6. Since 2009, Cheang's practice has been set in a post-internet-collapse fictional BioNet world, exploring themes of viral love, bio-hacking, and queer and anti-colonial imaginations.
Event presented by LAS Art Foundation
Curated by Julia Kaganskiy, assisted by Zoe Büchtemann
Produced for LAS Art Foundation by Nok Akt
UKI premiere with LAS Foundation
UKI, a Sci-fi Viral Alt-Reality Cinema, Shu Lea Cheang 2023
Produced by Shu Lea Cheang and Jürgen Brüning
Funded by John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and Medienboard Berlin Brandenburg.