Liu Shiyuan: “The Edge of Vision, or the Edge of the Earth”

“The Edge of Vision, or the Edge of the Earth”, Liu Shiyuan Solo Exhibition

White Space (No.255 Caochangdi, Airport Service Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, 100015), Mar 9 – May 5, 2013

One might not expect to like this first solo show by Liu Shiyuan, but the temptation is to swallow it whole in all its strange, floral glory. It is at once a spare and ample arrangement across two rooms — installations involving bright images of flowers (one wall is covered completely with them), fruit, jewellery and performers all abstracted from their original contexts. The jewellery cut-outs are placed ambiguously on jutting supports covered with green felt; the fruit images have been glued to small backgrounds of lush grass or landscape. There are two videos, too, on screens on the floor. The second, from which the show takes its title, is a bizarre and amusing spoof; a sardonic wildlife-documentary-type voice speaks a bizarre commentary: “since 2007 something very strange has been happening…but these images cannot tell us about changes to the most important factor…whether or not life is a good or bad thing, of course, depends on your point of view…this looks better…the job must be finished before the sea freezes over again…” — alongside of which play part-fake, part-real shots of lakes, an artificial island of ice, rolling waves on the shore and a procession of unidentified people advancing in tragic-comic manner, mourning something undisclosed.

Through this synthetic, colorful, detached mode, we are told, Liu aims to interrogate narrative and imagery, and to beg from these pictures “incorrect” answers. Whilst it might not be clear, exactly, what this means, the show is infused with a certain weightlessness and the spirit of a distinctly different perspective from what we are used to – a zany, welcome surprise.

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