Xiaowen Zhu: Brief Encounters on the Milky Way

An astronaut’s view of London’s Essex Road

Xiaowen Zhu, Brief Encounters on the Milk Way, 2017, single-channel video, 5 min. Courtesy the artist and Tintype


A standout among eight films commissioned by Tintype, on view at the London gallery space through Saturday 13 January. 

Xiaowen Zhu’s 2017 film Brief Encounters on the Milky Way documents the encounters of an astronaut on Essex Road. Switching between walking down the street and standing behind a large shop window, the astronaut appears to be a test of tolerance and openness towards something unusual, unfamiliar and unexpected. Passers-by, attracted and bemused by the bizarre sight, become participants in this brief encounter. Zhu is an artist, filmmaker and writer whose work communicates the complex experience of being a diasporic person.