In a spirited homage to the Bruce Lee movie of the same title, Zhang Ding’s Enter The Dragon is a kinetic, mirrored set built around a double stage, currently occupying the theatre space of London’s ICA.
As flashily seductive as a disco-era nightclub set, the installation is open to daytime visitors as an art installation, and will be animated in the evenings by musical performances. Programmed by NTS radio in collaboration with the artist, each show will see two bands negotiate the challenges of playing face to face, separated only by a small audience and a rank of rotating mirrored panels at the front of each stage.
Rather than summoning the fighting spirit of Lee and his clawed opponent, Zhang intends his disorientating performance structure to be a site for respectful artistic cooperation – albeit cooperation conducted in an entirely unpeaceful fashion.
The preview set, played in the otherwise dead zone of a Monday lunchtime, saw mesmerising Japanese psychedelic punks Bo Ningen ripping their way through individual tracks before respectfully handing over to Powell at the end of each for interludes of hammering electronic beats and blips. As opening lunches for Frieze week go, it was more than usually exhilarating, and an effective antidote to polite conversation.
Stages and platforms are a recurring feature in Zhang’s work, as are the nightclub atmospherics, though unlike most international art spaces, the ICA has an august heritage of fabulously disreputable clubs, gigs and performances. While certain London galleries have, in recent weeks, had to pull the plug on night-time noise-making, here Enter The Dragon’s spleen-trembling acoustics were heralded with something akin to glee.
As well as kicking off the city’s art week, Enter The Dragon also represented the first London manifestation of a new, evolving, partnership between the ICA and Adrian Cheng’s K11 Art Foundation. Known for his art-centric K11 Malls in Shanghai and Hong Kong, Cheng’s Art Foundation offers platforms, residencies and support for artists from greater China. The foundation has already collaborated on projects with Centre Pompidou, Palais de Tokyo and Musée Marmottan in Paris, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Armory Show in New York.
Enter the Dragon runs until 25 October at the ICA