Xiaohan Guo (b.1997) graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art from Beijing Institute of Graphic Communication in 2019. Her recent exhibitions include “Work in Progress” at the Royal College of Art (London, 2019), and “Artists as Independent Publishers” at Bremen (Germany, 2021), as well as the forthcoming shows “The Book is a Container” at Bothy Gallery (London, UK), and “Double Vision” at Cromwell Place (London, UK). Xiaohan currently lives and works in London.
My practice explores the notion of image narration through the form of the artists’ book. In addition to investigating relationships between text and image, I also use the structure of the book as a narrative device. I am interested in the ways that the physical form of a book, as well as its sequence of pages and their compositions, can shape a storytelling encounter. The works I produced during the MA Print often reveal multiple story lines and allow multiple reading methods. The book “A Gift from the Night”, for example, contains two stories that are read in different directions, one from the front cover to the centre spread and the other from the back cover to the centre again. In “Mumble”,I took a different approach, drawing instead on methods used in the field of graphic novels to explore ways that the relationship between text and image can co-construct a story.
Contextualising and exploring the re-transcription of myths and folklore from my home country to my current residence in London has become another part of my practice. I see this as a form of re-enactment which allows a new understanding or reinterpretation to emerge.
“A Gift from the Night” is a wordless picture book that explores the alternating orbits of the sun and the moon, combined with a story about sharing. The idea for this book emerged after I encountered a fox in the local streets of London where I live. It left a deep impression on me and reminded me of myths of the moon from my childhood.
The book contains two story lines, following two foxes who live in the same tree hole at different times of day: one during the daylight and one during the night. Although the foxesknow of each other's existence, they have never met. The fox living in the daylight hours always chases the sun but, in this story, it has never seen the moon. The fox living in the night-time wants to give the moon as a gift to its daytime neighbourso, one day, it takes the moon back into the tree hole in an act of sharing.
The book is the accordion fold structure, which reveals thecolour transitions in the work. The format also offers two different reading methods: a reader can follow the narrative page-by-page or unfold it to see the events in a continuous length. The arrangement of the images on the paper establishes a rhythm, reflecting the trajectory of the foxes in the story.
Medium:Linocut and mezzotint print on Japanese paper
Size:152*210mm (3 editions)
“Moonlight” originated at the same time as "A Gift from the Night" and uses the reflective surfaces of a series of mezzotint plates to reveal a narrative of changing light. The zinc plates reflect a delicate lustre under illumination, echoing the way the moon relies on the sun, an external source of light, in order to glow. In the video, the movement of the light source simulates the moving trajectory of the sun as it rises from the east to the west, allowing the hidden picture to appear and then disappear again. The soundtrack was recorded during a rainy night in London to amplify the quiet atmosphere of the images.
“Share the Moonlight” uses the looped, temporal structure of a gif to show the effects of the changing, four seasons.
“Mumble” is a pop-up book that records a five-day diary I recorded during the first Covid-19 lockdown period in London, in 2020. The diary tells the story of my transformation into three different animals, and explores how I used imagination and a spirit of everyday adventure to manage self-isolation.
Medium:Linocut, digital print
Size:100*150mm (5 editions)
“Lucid Dream” proposes a circular world where thoughts and emotions whirl and loop in the mind. The story explores chaotic thoughts that turn into monsters, and furry creatures that live in the brain, embarking on unknown journeys. This book can be read from any page and in any direction, and is always a cyclical story. Like lucid dreams, books provide windows for peeking into our inner worlds. The use of images without text provide space for each reader to generate their own understanding of the trajectories and connections between elements in the work.