The Wandering Lake


Patty Chang

The Wandering Lake is a personal, associative, narrative meditation on mourning, caregiving, geopolitics and landscape. Patty Chang is interested in looking at water resource as a political and poetical infrastructure. The project is, inspired by a turn-of-the-century colonial explorer Sven Hedin’s book Wandering Lake, in which he attempts to map location of a migrating body of water in the Chinese desert. The first trip was to Xinjiang province in Western China, a predominantly ethnic Uighar province, rich in oil where the wandering lake is located. Chang collaborated with local Uighar and Han girls on ephemeral sculptures. The second phase was a journey to Aral Sea in Uzbekistan that lost 70% of its water due to ill-planned Soviet irrigation projects. The artist traveled to the water line while pumping her breast milk along the way into empty fish cans and photographing them. In the third phase, Chang followed the longest aqueduct in the world, which brings water from southern China to the capital Beijing. She urinated every time she came upon the aqueduct, attempting to connect the aquaduct to the historic flooding of the Yellow River and Chinese imperial history, and to think about the massive infrastructure compared to the scale of the body.

Project Updates

  • 2012: Chang embarks on scouting trip to Uzbekistan