Zhixin Liao

The Rings of Stone (videostill) door Zhixin Liao

The Rings of Stone door Zhixin Liao

Over het werk

Muziek: Bernardo Beirão


Out on the leaden-coloured sea a sailing boat kept me company, or rather, it seemed to me as if it were motionless and I myself, step by step, were making as little progress as that invisible spirit aboard his unmoving barque.

– W. G. Sebald

A story inspired Zhixin Liao. It was about the Tabernakel that had been lost near the Dutch border and found a few weeks later in the national river. The film he edited is as a way of painting. Trying to make up a fragmented narrative. This project is related to the invisible risks involved in being confined. The residence requirements set by the authorities prohibit or limit global citizens from leaving their current countries of residence.

The video shows the landscape along the entire border length between mainland Netherlands and two other countries. Border land-markers include boundary trees and stones. They include artificial wetlands, abandoned checkpoints, and so on. Imageries of the border question the abstract relationship between contemporary geopolitics and human social contracts. They also question further exploring the mutual construction between individual personas and collective ideologies. When we see pictures of the border, we can ask ourselves how they transgress several boundaries. 

This collaboration between Zhixin and Bernardo was born from a shared interest in borders and how those invisible lines shape our world. The video footage was recorded precisely on some of these lines, more specifically the borders between Belgium, The Netherlands, and Germany. The music follows the motto of the video and develops slowly based on constant repetition, processes, and accumulation. The text Agnus Dei was chosen to symbolize a sense of union, since it is in Latin. It was also chosen to represent the presence of animals on these lands. For them, these borders do not exist. The landscape remains the same regardless of which side of the border you are in. Several other things by contrast, change. Language is one of them. During the installation, it is possible to hear recordings of news anchors speaking in several languages. These are panned in different directions creating the idea that each language is coming from a different side of the border, coming from a different country.

Over de maker

Zhixin Liao (1990, Guangzhou) uses multi-disciplinary practices to draw attention to the inaccuracies between individual experiences and situations, concepts and materials. Producing and mimicking things are not just a consequence of thinking, but a physical process that allows room for something else to happen afterward, like his past exhibition, With Permission From The Officer (PuntWG Amsterdam, 2021) and A glittering ruin sucked upwards (HISK laureates Gosset exhibition, Brussels, 2022). He is looking for the interval separating perception and site-specific contexts (e.g., situational, political, metaphorical) based on various field studies where misunderstanding and obscurity are unintentional albeit inevitable factors. In recent years, he has been fascinated by his status as a migrant in Europe. He uses this experience of displacement to reconstruct the relevancy of surrounding events, historical archives, and different bureaus. His upcoming project included Van Gogh AiR (Vincent van GoghHuis), Borderland Residencies 2023 (Heerlen), and Duo-Residency in EX PRESSO (PostEX Rome). 


M. Bernardo Beirão (1997) is a Portuguese composer and singer who studies at the Royal Conservatoire Antwerp. His work is focused both in composing for his own voice as well as composing for other musicians or ensembles. He is deeply involved in combining and merging different musical genres and different art forms. Recontextualization is an important word in his art pieces. He has collaborated and composed for ensembles and institutions as Ensemble Darcos, Bl!ndman, Antena 2 Radio, and Nova Era Vocal Ensemble. Currently, he is a member of the project MAISHA, with Junior Akwety, where he is a composer, singer and a pianist. He is studying composition with Wim Henderickx and Alain Craens and he has been guided before by Luís Tinoco, Carlos Caires, and Sérgio Azevedo. In singing, he is currently studying with Gary Jankowsky. He is also very involved in the choir scene, having had his own barbershop quartet, Contratempo and colaborating in projects of institutions as MPMP, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Meesters en Gezellen and Eurochoir.