Capsule Shanghai is pleased to present "Almost Collapsing Balance", artist Liao Wen's first solo exhibition at the gallery, featuring her recent sculptural works.
廖雯: 接近坍塌的平衡 Liao Wen: Almost Collapsing Balance展期 Date: 2021.09.11 – 10.23开幕 Opening: 2021.09.11, 15:00 - 18:00地址 Venue: 胶囊上海，上海徐汇区安福路275弄16号1层Capsule Shanghai, 1st Floor, Building 16, Anfu Lu 275 Nong, Xuhui District, Shanghai, China
撰文 / 陈柏麒
—— 巴勃罗·聂鲁达 (Pablo Neruda)廖雯在近期的对谈中提到了关于自我身体的新领悟：由于做了大量的木工，手指层层褪去的皮肤和逐渐消失的触觉抹平了她对于周遭的感知，却又让她在重新找回触感之后获得了关于世界的崭新体验。木偶——作为廖雯饱受训练的创作媒介——虽然简化了人的肉身，却进一步暴露了它们深层的扭曲。艺术家遭遇过什么，这些椴木和硅胶与她一起经历了什么，近乎赤裸地印刻在作品的诸多细节中。
Liao Wen 廖雯 | Hesitation 犹疑 | 2020 | limewood, silicone, ruby 椴木、硅胶、红宝石 | 103 x 43 x 91 cm | Detail 局部孕育这一系列作品诞生的是三个仪式：古希腊的妇女节、雅典的阿都尼亚节和英国维多利亚时期的歇斯底里症疗法。廖雯对这些故事的兴趣一部分来源于集体狂欢的当下，这是疫情以来或是连自己都意识不到的⻓时段里，艺术家在完全失序的信息汪洋中最无法回避的体会。但这并不尽然是对狂欢的批判，艺术家更多联想到的是仪式的缺失和重要性。作为一种时空上的短暂超越，仪式呈现了那些欲望无法被实现的不适和理想与身体之间的对立，由此为参与者带来了一种存在于这个世界的强烈体验。而在这三个故事中，我们还看到了仪式的更多面向。它们摆脱了单纯的自我安慰，而是通过进一步营造焦虑和不安去获得某种彻底的中介状态（liminality）。在这样的状态里人们通过狂欢找到了极限，通过运动达到了暂时的平衡，又通过重复的平衡获得了迫近永恒的超脱。 在这些仪式中，艺术家着重关注女性的身体、仪式的仪轨、神话的溯源和自然提取物。她用自己独特也擅⻓的方式将故事进行了消化和转换：象征着新生和纯洁的无花果树被包裹于木质的子宫和卵巢之内；硅胶仿造的、希腊妇女去年埋葬的腐肉半遮半掩地缩塞于空腔之间；梅亚女神的眼泪化成了阿都尼亚节中用来刺激性欲的没药，和踮起脚尖的躯体一起构成了《阿多尼斯的花园》。而这些转换而来的创造，往往又被艺术家放置于一套动态平衡的系统之中。椴木型塑而成的身体仍然保留了人的关节，它们意味着运动的极限，也呈现着静止的张力。极限，正如仪式当中的狂欢，在这个“自支撑”的结构中成为了真正的着力点，时刻竭尽全力地、甚至咬牙切⻮地提供着的可感的身体和情感经验。这个过程中，艺术家一次又一次地发起并完成了仪式。在这种意义上，展览及眼前的艺术品既是仪式的遗迹，又是持存的仪式本身。它们的存在意味着仪式的延续，意味着我们仍然处于永恒的欲望和无能之间。
Liao Wen 廖雯 | The Garden of Adonis 阿多尼斯的花园 | 2021 | limewood, silicone, poly clay, white crystal, agate, myrrh, anemone 椴木、硅胶、粘土、水晶、玛瑙、没药、银莲花 | 93 x 50 x 142 cm | Detail 局部但哪怕是对上述三个故事毫无了解的观众，也可以直观地感知到，在这些不知道哪一刻就会崩坏的平衡中，艺术家通过力的暗流涌动，奋力尝试着依靠自身的极限去寻求抵消黑暗状况的勇气和希望。作为“集体中介状态”的仪式，其实是某种“失序”的外显。而人们之所以不得不依赖仪式，是因为往往我们只能看到失序的表现，却始终无法理解失序本身。在这里，重要的不是艺术家讲了哪些故事中的仪式或哪些关于仪式的故事，而是艺术家如何讲、为什么在科学实证主义统治的今天仍然尝试着讲述和表达。这些被普遍认知为无效或假的仪式和神话，还能如何让我们重新认识自己和世界?受到压迫的古希腊的女性，在那个关于阿多尼斯的神话当中所读到的不止是主人公阿多尼斯的悲惨命运，她们也与受到道德谴责而获得无尽痛苦的梅亚感同身受，她们亦从赛普洛斯的王的无罪中理解这个并非有因必有果的世界，由此神话和她们举办的仪式才产生了更强大的复杂性和生命力。寓言和神话的区别在于，寓言往往是有结局的，而“上帝之死”之前的神话从不讲述道理，仅仅是动态地呈现一个更多元的世界。展览中的这些作品，不应该被处理和理解为某些神话和仪式的视觉转换。倘若如此，它们将如今天被知识化之后的所有神话一样，成为一种轮廓分明的“日神艺术”。今天我们已经习惯了一切的叙事都能够形成主轴和表述，正如我们对一个艺术家的作品和一个展览都不禁要产生“主题”和“意义”的期待。可真正重要的，是这些已经失落的理解和认识型，如何通过艺术家的工作被重新发现和强调起来，这些我们共享的不安和困顿，又如何转化为一种同舟共济的社群精神。
Liao Wen 廖雯 | Almost Hysterical 几近癔狂 | 2020 | limewood, silicone, stainless steel 椴木、硅胶、不锈钢 | 40 x 105 x 45 cm展览前夕廖雯回顾自己的创作过程时说道：“在这四个展厅里，无论作品诉诸的是仪式还是具身体验，它们都拥有更深层的、共通的原始动机。它们或许是关系中的爱与伤害，或许是母性，或许是关于生存本能、或关于激情。”它们抑或是关于一种难以磨灭的真感，正如神话一度所鼓励的那样，正如你从不断创造的细节中重获知觉那样。
—— 巴勃罗·聂鲁达 (Pablo Neruda)
Wood-carving process 廖雯作品创作过程
Text / Chen Baiqi
All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. And we must pass through solitude and difficulty, isolation and silence in order to reach forth to the enchanted place where we can dance our clumsy dance and sing our sorrowful song…
— Pablo Neruda
In a recent conversation, Liao mentioned a new understanding of her body: due to her extensive woodwork, the skin on her fingers was peeling off. Gradually, her sense of tactility also fades, flattening her perception of surroundings, which allowed her to gain a new world experience once she regained her sense of touch. The puppets – a creative medium Liao Wen trained in – simplify the human body and expose their embedded distortions. What the artist encountered and what these lime trees and silicone have undergone with her seem to have been etched unadorned in the artworks’ details.
A puppet made by Liao Wen 廖雯制作的木偶
The Women's Festival in ancient Greece known as Thesmophoria, the Adonia in Athens, and therapy for hysteria in Victorian England engendered this series of works. Liao Wen’s interest in these stories is partly rooted in the collective revelry of the present. For the artist, an inescapable experience in a sea of information in complete disorder began since the outbreak of the pandemic or perhaps prior during an extended time, when even she was unaware of its emergence.
However, this is not exactly a criticism of the revelry, for the artist is more concerned with ritual's absence and vital importance. As a transient transcendence of time and space, rituals present the discomfort of unfulfilled desires and the opposition between the ideal and the body, thus providing participants with an intense experience of being in the world. In these three stories, we are presented with many aspects of ritual. They move away from self-soothing to an utter state of liminality by creating further anxiety and restlessness. In such a state, people discover their limits through revelry, achieving temporary balance through movement; and achieve transcendence that approaches eternity through pulsing balance.
In these rituals, the artist focuses on the female body, passages of rituals, mythological origins and natural extracts. She digests and transforms these stories by taking a unique and proficient approach: she buries a fig tree, a symbol of rebirth and purity in wooden womb and ovaries; lays half-covered and half-hidden a silicon reproduction of decaying flesh customarily buried by Greek women a year prior to the ritual; and transforms tears of the goddess Maia into myrrh used to stimulate sexual desire during Adonia to form The Garden of Adonis, a sculpture standing on tiptoe. These transformed creations are often placed in a system of dynamic balance. The body made of lime wood still retains its human joints, which suggests the limits of movement and reveals a tension of stillness. Like revels in the ritual, the limitations become the focus in this "self-supporting" structure, providing a palpable physical and emotional experience at all times; with all efforts and even with gritted teeth. In this process, the artist initiates and completes the ritual again and again. In this sense, the exhibition and the artworks before us are relics of the ritual and its ongoing practice. Their existence implies the continuation of the ritual and that we remain between eternal desire and impotence.
Liao Wen 廖雯 | Don’t Leave 别离 | 2020 | limewood, silicone, stainless steel 椴木、硅胶、不锈钢 | 90 x 54 x 28 cm
But even a viewer who does not know the three stories above can intuitively perceive that, in an equilibrium that is on the verge of collapse, the artist strives to find the courage and hope to counteract the dark conditions through her own limits and an undercurrent of forces. As a ritual of "collective liminality," it is indeed an outward manifestation of a kind of "disorder." People have to rely on rituals because they perceive the expression of disorder without understanding it. What is important here is not the stories with ritual practices or the artist’s retelling of them, but how and why she tries to articulate and express them even now when scientific positivism reigns. Can these rituals and myths, which are generally perceived as futile or false, still allow us to reconnect with ourselves and the world?
The oppressed ancient Greek women, interpreted from the myth of Adonis, not only conveyed the tragic fate of the hero Adonis, but they also empathized with Maia, who was morally condemned to endless suffering. They understood a world does not necessarily follow the logic of causality from the king of Sephiroth’s innocence so that the myth and the rituals they performed engendered powers of complexity and vitality. The difference between fable and myth is that the former often has an ending, whereas the myths before "Death of God" never spoke of reason but presented a more diverse and dynamic world. The artworks in this exhibition should not be treated and considered as visual transformations of certain myths and rituals. If they were, they would become, as all myths are today, contained within an intellectual framework - a kind of "heliotheistic art" with distinct outlines. Today, we are accustomed to the idea that all narratives can form an axis and expression, just as we expect a "theme" and "meanings" from an artist's work and an art exhibition. Nevertheless, what matters is how these forgotten understandings and perceptions are rediscovered and re-emphasized through the artist's work and how our shared insecurity and hardship are transformed into a communal spirit of solidarity.
On the eve of the exhibition, Liao Wen looks back on her creative process and says, "In these four gallery spaces, whether the works resort to ritual or embodiment, they all share a deeper, common primordial motive. They might be about love and hurt in relationships, or about motherhood, survival instincts, or passion." Perhaps, it is about an indelible sense of truth, as the myth once encouraged and as one regains perception from the details of constant creation.
…but in this dance, or this song, there are fulfilled the most ancient rites of our consciousness in the awareness of being human and of believing in a common destiny.
— Pablo Neruda
Liao Wen (b. 1994, China) currently lives and works in Shenzhen, China. She graduated from the printmaking department of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in 2016, and received a Master's degree in Experimental Art from the Central Academy of Fine Arts China in 2019.
Rooted in her daily body perception,Liao Wen's artistic practice expands across sculpture, performance and video, and explores variations of emotion within the body through vivid sculptural language. Her experience of making ventriloquist puppets in her early career inspired a fresh perspective on sculpture. By reproducing body parts and organs, Liao Wen awakens body perception through reconstruction of pain. Her recent work focuses on the theme of "the body in rituals", externalizing the state of mind and body suspended at a critical point of conflict in a temporarily stable structure.
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