Date of Award

2021

Document Type

MA Project - Open Access

Project Type

MA Project - Curatorial Proposal

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Contemporary Art

First Advisor

Morgan Falconer

Second Advisor

Judith Prowda

Abstract

Li Xiangming: Index of Mind, is an exhibition focuses on the artist’s recent productions and his contemplation of “object” and “its relations.” The collection demonstrates the artist’s freewill of creation and his hope of conveying his care and bring attention to the group of people who has been neglected in the trace of history. Li has not only been dedicated to express the living condition and mental state of a certain region, though to express the life and the will to live shared by all through his use of ordinary materials and subject matters with collective memories. This exhibition could be considered as an extension of Li’s Tuyu (native/local language) series in 2005 and his concept of the “populism aesthetic” and to be more specific, the “patch aesthetics” as indicated by art critic Jia Fangzhou. As one of the first few artists who wanted to create Chinese local abstraction, a form that is distinct from the Western with Chinese sprits, Li has been always contemplate the true meaning of creating art with local culture. Li has always had a question in his mind – how to get to know China? To truly understand the nation, he believes one must understand its native land, in other words the country side that is composed of a group of people representing the majority of civilians in a large agricultural country and is the group that brings most of the labor value in this country. Through this collection of works, the artist sincerely hopes to evoke memory of the life, memory of culture and memory history that seems to have been flattened and vanished in time. He also wishes to awaken people’s deep excitement and enter stages of introspection and reflection thought such serious and heavy theme.

Li Xiangming has been focused on utilizing ready-made objects collected from his hometown in Hebei and other rural areas in China. He is dedicated in exploring the relationship between his found objects and meaning he sees behind these ready-made objects: culturally,

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livelihood, historically, all hovering in his mind. Patchwork for him symbolizes the inheritance of art, culture and history, as well as the aesthetic consciousness of an older generation. His choice of using rags or cloth with patches on patches rather than new cloth reveals the notion of social critical consciousness. These rags and discarded ordinary objects can be considered as an irony of poverty and laggard in Chinese society. Incorporating low class culture into elite culture could also be a statement of teasing art itself with these rags, sacks and clothes collected by the artist as documentations of underclass’s suffering and arduousness, and the fact of their life is constantly being commercialized, dominated and unfamiliarized and the absurdity sublime and judgement of history.

Li Xiangming’s art touches the “unconsciousness” of Chinese people, which refers to the obscured general public. Through this collection of work, Li expresses more of life suffering and humble solicitude and wanting to evoke feelings that touches the bottom of life. The display of the entire exhibition will demonstrate audiences with a narrative of things we’ve overlooked in life through various forms including collages, installations and screen projection.

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