Ukupacha: The Inner World

Exhibition of work by artist and practice-led Postgraduate Researcher, Hang Zhang.

To kick off a three to four year-long practice-led PhD project exploring the cultural images of South American camelids, Hang Zhang embarked on a journey to Peru — the homeland of llamas, alpacas and vicunas — in April 2023.

While tracing the history of these 'exotic' animals alongside Andean culture and colonisation, Zhang also reflects on her own 'exotic' role in this research. The first exhibition of this project aims to unveil outsiderness through cross-cultural rituals, acknowledging the double layer of exoticness she is investigating.

Ukupacha — recognised as the inner or underworld of the three realms by the Incas — holds connections to the deceased, ancestors and various deities linked to agriculture and fertility.

Ukupacha: The Inner World showcases Zhang's latest works, inspired by her field trip. The centrepiece, Llama Card Reading, offers an interactive divination experience guided by Zhang's shaman alter ego, Qi’Ru.

Llama Card Deck consists of 78 cards, each revealing an item or story related to the South American Camelids that Zhang encountered during her time in Peru. For those who prefer independent exploration, the deck comes with a surreal interactive storybook and a guidebook explaining the meaning of each card.

The exhibition will run over three days in August, with Qi’Ru providing free Llama Card readings on-site throughout the event. 

Image from the cover of artist's book, Book of Shadows 2023


About Hang Zhang

Hang Zhang is an artist based in Leeds who challenges the boundaries of art to explore the potential of various disciplines, including nonhuman and wordless writing language, extra-terrestrial life, posthumanism and mortality.

Zhang identifies speaking for the underprivileged that do not yet have enough of a voice as her artist’s social responsibility. Her focus ranged from a small lab beetle that otherwise would never received care of love from humans; domestic animals like sheep that serve human needs but are rarely regarded as friends; herself, an international student who challenges institutional bureaucracy and a non-white female who confronts subtle racism in British society; herself, a young girl who grew up in a patriarchal Chinese household with little control over her own body; Andean culture which is being impacted by Anglocentrism and Eurocentrism; and the alpacas in East Asia, which are heavily anthropomorphised and have their natural needs neglected.

Having graduated with a first class honours BA Fine Art degree in 2021, Hang Zhang continued her studies in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies and finished her MA Fine Art in September 2022. Zhang’s ongoing practice-led PhD project at the University of Leeds investigates the cultural images of South American lamoid species in globalisation under the epochal impacts of post-colonisation and the Internet.

Zhang currently has work exhibited in the NAE Open 2023 In Nottingham. Two of her pieces were selected for the RA Summer Exibition 2023 in London, where she won this year’s British Institution Fund Award for her neon sculpture Cat Tattooing Cat.


Project Space
School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies
University Road
University of Leeds
Leeds LS2 9JT


Image from the cover of Hang Zhang’s Book of Shadows (2023), 51-page artist's book, watercolour on cotton rag paper.