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December 2, 2021

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From darkness to a bright future

THE exhibition “Tangle of Revolution and Political Soul,” in full swing at Shanghai Space & Gallery Association, explores humans’ inner space of upsets, desires and worries, hoping to find a way out of the fear so that we can regain our sovereignty, especially after the global pandemic.

The exhibition is curated by Lu Mingjun, who has a doctorate in history and is a researcher at Fudan University’s School of Philosophy. On display are artworks from more than 30 artists, ranging from paintings, photos, videos and performances to site-specific sculptures and installations. The works are presented in five sections to form a grand narrative, telling the story of how humanity is striving to go from primordial chaos and darkness to a bright future.

The performance video “Plantain Trees” shows artist Tong Wenmin standing in a plantain patch after the plants were burned. She moves slowly and shakes violently, practicing a mysterious ritual to beckon the lost souls to return.

Li Nu’s video “Migration” echoes that of Tong’s. He wore a cotton jacket with a hand-painted car license plate “Sichuan AD4445” on the back and ran for three days on the highways of Beijing. He got lost in the city — a giant concrete jungle.

Song Yuanyuan’s oil painting “Come on Pigs No.1” continues the classic fairy tale “Three Piglets” after they have defeated the big bad wolf and defended their home. For Song, the story isn’t over yet. He depicts how the pigs live after the victory — happily and dully. The celebration party never ends, and their new enemy — emptiness — lurks in beer bottles, ashtrays and dirty dishes.

Can humans find a permanent spiritual shelter on Earth? The answer is no, as there’s probably nowhere to hide. Xu Zhen’s installation “Safe House A” is a camping tent. With a pair of crosses erected on top of the structure, the tent resembles a Christian church for emergencies.

Xu’s installation exemplifies the so-called “faith” in modern times. An easily transportable tent tentatively provides a spiritual home with little sense of security. The temporary nature of a tent and eternity of faith both consolidate and work against each other, imbuing the installation with a mild sense of absurdity.


Dates: Through January 16, 2022 (closed on Mondays), 10am-6pm

Venue: Shanghai Space & Gallery Association

Address: 3/F, 3 Zhongshan Road E1


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