Hu Xiaoyuan: No Fruit at the Root

2012. 10. 20-01. 28

Beijing Commune is proud to announce the opening of Hu Xiaoyuan’s second solo show at the gallery--No Fruit at the Root. The show begins on Oct. 20th and will last till Jan. 28, 2013.

The show, titled No Fruit at the Root, presents the latest works by Hu Xiaoyuan. It is composed by three piece: No Fruit at the Root, which is a new extension of the artist “Wood” series, The Drown Dust, a three channel video work, and See, a video installation work. The visual presentation of the three works looks very restrained or even purposely reduced to a very minimalized state. One can feel the enduring struggle of an individual against the hardship hidden in the seeming understated presentation.

No Fruit at the Root(2012) is composed of nine “wood” pieces. The method of making the “wood” is the same: the artist traced, on silk, the lines and the grains of the part of the wood surface beneath with traditional Chinese ink. The silk was taken off after the tracing was finished. That part of the wood surface then was paint white. After the paint totally dried, the artist mounted the traced silk back onto the traced surface. The difference lies with the choice of the wood. In fact, this collective are all made of abandoned wood parts which have totally lost their “function” in everyday life. Taken from various wooden tools, the form of these pieces look bizarre and confusing. An intriguing intension is created between the grotesque appearance of these wood items and the artist’s self-disciplined, meticulous tracing process on their surfaces.

The three-channel video work Drown Dust (2012)was inspired produced when the artist was sorting out her equipment and some remaining things after a location shooting was finished. Hu Xiaoyuan shot with macro-lens the heavily scrubbed and soaked bottom parts of the pants wore by the actress who was asked to perform her anger towards the sea with body movements in the location shooting, the revolving corals she collected from the shooting, and the sharp edge of the blank paper which was a prop of the performer during the shooting.

The video installation See consists of two parts: a video with almost no image at the first glance--only when looking very carefully can the viewer find a white surface is moving on the white background. The other part is a archive video showing how the artist carries, with great difficulty, a heavy white board on her back to move against a bent white wall. However, this archive video is played on a monitor facing the wall, which in fact, is unable to offer any information to the viewer that it is opposite to.

Hu Xiaoyuan has always shown strong interest in the exploration of contrasting/interchanging relationship between things. In her earlier works, Hu’s vocabulary of art is quite metaphoric: she embroidered, with her own hair, on white Ling (a type of silk traditionally associated with death in China) the patterns mixing her own body parts and scenes full of physical and emotional desires in the culture’s convention in A Keepsake I Cannot Give Away(2007); She juxtaposed the cast daily objects made with toilet paper with cicada slough, stuffed sparrow, old desk and chair used in primary school and clock, things that symbolize the eclipse of time and life, to construct the scene in Summer solstice; she ripped a rice paper into pieces and than tried to piece the shreds up, with tape, onto a silk scroll in Useless(2008). The “Wood” , series has been a new starting point for Hu Xiaoyuan since late 2008, with which she gradually loosen her grip of the “meaning” of the works by putting them into uncertain contexts. With such subtle change of form, her works began to be more ambiguous and are more open to multiple interpretations from the viewers. This become very evident in her first solo show at Beijing Commune in 2010. Those video pieces that are totally devoid of temporal or spacial dimension such as Where is There, I Don't Know How Long You've Been Walking On, and I Don't Know Where You're Going, her viewers found that Hu Xiaoyuan has transformed individual experience into a much more abstract vocabulary.

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