At 16:00 on December 14, “Yin Xiuzhen’s Solo Exhibition: Back to the end” opened at the Pace Beijing in the 798 Art District, as the 8th installation of Pace Beijing’s annual project “Beijing Voice”. Artist Yin Xiuzhen’s gaze on social reality has always unfolded along a fine concrete thread that focuses on the individual condition, and captured, with keen, poetic creative intuition, the disorientation and unease that lies behind the mainstream atmosphere of this rapidly developing society. She uses a series of sculptural installations made from everyday materials to visualize subtle individual perceptions and the oft-overlooked individual will. It marks the artist’s return to Beijing after 4 years, sifting through the spiritual threads behind the artist’s recent works.
When Only Left with Future, We Can Start Again
“Back to the end” distinguishes itself from any concept of history that logically develops, which presents a concept of a circle – time flying and the forthcoming future mutually overlap. The artist portrayed these poetic, ambiguous, and blended layers with her manner, which can be seen as a stubborn position that is distant from the mainstream values, on a certain level; at the same time, Yin Xiuzhen’s recent works reveal a destructiveness which is stronger and stronger – through a conflicting system she is able to push the material to a decisive “ending”, she seems to find the source of vitality in the work with this system.
The site of the exhibition is filled with a desolate and restless apocalyptic atmosphere. A sculpture entitled “Message Undelivered” toppled on the ground at the entrance to the exhibition was like an “angel”, with the wings filled with stainless steel pipes of different lengths, and the artist told the journalist from CAFA ART INFO that “the angel was made of foam”, giving “Message Undelivered” a dramatic imaginative space.
In the center of the hall it places a huge installation of sculpture entitled “Planting”, which expanded the helplessness and oppressive unease, with weeds growing haphazardly across a concrete field, visually shocking people. Yin Xiuzhen said it was directly created in the gallery, gradually planting the dead “weeds” in a concrete field where it was piled up. For the concrete was of a quick-drying property so the work was completed by her in one day.
A Warm Rebirth of the Uneasy, Chaotic and Self-Destructive
A series of narrative montage scenes draw the viewer into the depths of the exhibition hall, where a giant figure towers six meters overhead. The hollow structure of the work is the most recognizable feature for a series of works by Yin Xiuzhen in recent years, since “Introspective Cavity” 2008, this kind of large-scale installation that allows viewers to enter, using her representative old clothes to wrap the metal skeletons like skin wrapping the body, so that people who enter the installation, have an illusion of entering the inside of a living thing, while the collision between the amazing size of the work and the soft & intimate personal clothing adds some subtle strangeness. Titled “Trojan”, this new work takes on an unsettling appearance – in an highly recognizable airplane seat, a passenger curls into the safety position shown on in-flight safety cards. Unlike the enchanting colors of previous works trying to offer spiritual comfort to individuals in turbulent times, this huge installation uses black, white and gray colors, to reject any attempt to appease, and becomes an avatar of the loneliness, depression and generalized anxiety of modern people.
If we take “Back to the end” as a clue, it is easier to understand the rough texture that Yin Xiuzhen deliberately exposed in the works. In the work of “21 Grams”, the cuffs taken from the old clothes were completely burnt in the kiln, while their own textures were completely and clearly left on the surface of the porcelain clay. In the “Blending Instrument – Time”, the metal clock was melted in a more destructive way, leaving scar-like marks…
Moving in Circles, Back to the End
It features only a group of photographic works of “Butter”, the hard & firm concrete is gradually infiltrated and blended by a bright and glittering butter, disintegrated in a quiet and slow way, and a secret & powerful moment was solidified by the camera. Yin Xiuzhen explained it to the journalist that these photographs were inspired by her life and experience in German. There are two works placed in the dark space inside the hall, including the “Microcosm”, and the video installation “Mosquitoes”, which was first shown to the public, showcasing the numerous, tiny insects that are circling around the same area as if lost, but it seems a mysterious order maintained in this random blind flight. For the artist, it is not a simple dualistic opposition between the collective and the individual, and her concern for the individual is demonstrated and emphasized by constantly putting the individuals back into the collective in new ways. In contemporary society where everything can be turned into signs and spectacles, Yin Xiuzhen’s works construct the concrete monuments to the oft-ignored, non-conforming individual.
Yin Xiuzhen is good at drawing inspiration from daily life and looking for materials, while breaking, reorganizing and rebuilding the items including old clothes, weeds, alarm clocks, rulers, exhaust pipes. Her magic is extraordinary and precious, and it has penetrated into each work, responding to the world, the things happening, and the encountered emotional experience, with delicate & tenacious qualities and infinite & full vitality.
Photo and text by Zhang Yizhi, translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO
Photo by CAFA ART INFO except for the specially labelled pieces