Zadie Xa & Vivien Zhang | Frieze Masters Podcast

Presented in partnership with Whitechapel Gallery

in Frieze Masters , Podcasts | 06 DEC 22

Portrait of Zadie Xa. Photo: Benito Mayor Vallejo
Portrait of Zadie Xa. Photograph: Benito Mayor Vallejo

Frieze Masters presents this conversation with Zadie Xa & Vivien Zhang in partnership with Whitechapel Gallery (@whitechapelgallery). Their conversation explores Xa’s new exhibition at Whitechapel as they reflect on ideas of cultural identity, the appropriation and gentrification of symbols, and disparities between static and performance art. 

Photo: Vivien Zhang
Photograph: Vivien Zhang

[The Yin Yang] feels like a very Korean or Asian thing. This is an authentic image that I can kind of attach meaning to, but then of course, it's something that has been so heavily commodified by the West and in skate and surfboard culture in Vancouver...So I thought, right, it's also devoid of meaning. And it's something that depending on where the symbol sits, has lots of meanings – Zadie Xa 

Zadie Xa (@zadiexa) was born in Vancouver, Canada and lives and works in London, UK. Working across textile, painting, installation, live performance, sound, and moving image, Xa’s practice is an exploration of familial legacies, histories of migration, and how different species communicate with one another. Vivien Zhang (@vivienzhang_) is a London-based artist and an Associate Lecturer at Camberwell College of Arts. 

Zadie Xa: House Gods, Animal Guides and Five Ways 2 Forgiveness, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 20 September 2022 – 30 April 2023. Photo: Andy Keate.
Zadie Xa, 'House Gods, Animal Guides and Five Ways 2 Forgiveness', 2022–2023. Photograph: Andy Keate

About the Frieze Masters Podcast 

Exploring themes of identity, originality, geopolitics and Blackness through a historical lens, the new Frieze Masters Podcast is now available. Bringing together some of today’s most celebrated artists, art historians and curators, the podcast launches with the Talks programme from the 2022 edition of Frieze Masters – one of the world’s leading art fairs – and offers compelling insight into the influence of historical art on contemporary perspectives and creativity. Subscribe now on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.


Zadie Xa was born in Vancouver, Canada in 1983 and lives and works in London, UK. She has an MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art and a BFA from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. Working across textile, painting, installation, live performance, sound, and moving image, Xa’s practice is an exploration of familial legacies, histories of migration, and how different species communicate with one another. ​Korean mythology and folklore often provide the narrative framework for the artist's investigations into ideas of cultural conflation, systems of power, home and belonging.  

Recent solo exhibitions include: The Box Plymouth (2022), National Gallery (2021), Leeds Art Gallery (2021) and Remai Modern (2020). Group exhibitions and performances include: Jeju Biennale (2023), Somerset House (2023), Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2022), Hauser & Wirth, London (2022) Jeffrey Deitch Gallery (2022), Blindspot Gallery, Hong Kong (2022), Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles (2022), Castello di Rivoli (2021), Haus der Kunst (2021), Shanghai Biennale (2021), Frieze London (2020), AGO Toronto (2020), Art Night (2020), Venice Biennale (2019), Hayward Gallery (2018) and Serpentine Galleries (2018 & 2017).  

Xa's benchmark exhibition 'House Gods, Animals Guides and Five Ways 2 Forgiveness' is currently on view at the Whitechapel Gallery in London until 30 April 2023. 


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Main image: Zadie Xa, Moon Poetics 4 Courageous Earth Critters and Dangerous Day Dreamers, 2021, Leeds Art Gallery, Exhibition made in collaboration with artist Benito Mayor Vallejo, with generous support from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Henry Moore Foundation. Photograph: Stuart Whipps