Patty Chang's video installation examines the idea of Shangri-La, the mythical hamlet of James Hilton's 1933 novel, Lost Horizon. The novel and the subsequent film by Frank Capra (1937) propelled the notion of Shangri-La into the collective cultural vocabulary. In 1997, a rural farming town in South Central China near the Tibetan border began to declare itself the place upon which Hilton's Shangri-La was based. Subsequently a dozen other towns in the area claimed that they were the real Heaven-on-Earth, resulting in a relentless marketing battle until the Chinese government intervened by officially naming one town Shangri-La. Chang's Shangri-La is about the reality and fiction inherent in the idea of a place that exists in both real and mythical incarnations. Her work explores the idea of making a real journey to an imaginary place.
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