Single channel color video
21 minutes; 55 seconds / 2K / surround sound
Director: Liu Shiyuan / DOP: Liu Shiyuan & Balthazar Hertel / Editor: Liu Shiyuan & Anders Pedersen / Grading: Liu Shiyuan & Anders V. Christensen/ Mix: Kristian Mondrup /
Composer: Kristian Mondrup / Script: Kristian Mondrup / Mix: Kristian Mondrup / Costume and Make-up: Anna Holmgren / Gaffer: Michael Kreutzmann / Boom: Asbjørn Derdau /
Producer: Liu Shiyuan & Alexander Nielsen / Father: Anders Mossling / Mother: Lisa Carlehed
One of the key concepts in Liu’s work is to encourage the viewer to slow down and pause for a moment,
allowing the time to observe and the mental space to wander. For her solo presentation with us in 2018, the video work Isolated
Above, Connected Down is projected onto a massive screen in the first floor gallery, and the viewer is invited to sit or lie down
on the pillows scattered around the black-and-gray-plaid carpeted floor, as if lying on the grass and daydreaming while looking
at the sky. The video begins with a series of cloud scenes, which were shot with the camera pointing directly from the ground
up toward the sky. Mimicking a relaxing mind fading into vague memories and blissful visions, sweet, pristine views of nature
begin to appear: bright blossoms and lush plants, busy bees, creeks glistening under the summer sun, a tranquil pond rippling
gently as gold fish glide past lily pads and lotus flower. As the mind enters into a train of increasingly coherent thought, the video
transitions into strips of rolling images, speeding up as the thought process escalates. Among the shuffling images are found
pictures from the 1960s and 70s that reinforce conventional male and female roles, foreshadowing the main scene to follow.
A tense, substantial conversation takes place at a dinner table between a couple. The mother’s role is intuitive, emotional and
anxious, exhausted from taking care of her young child, who is now finally asleep. The father’s role is rational, logical and calm,
eager to discuss political and metaphysical topics during dinner. The two characters’ different personalities and dispositions
cause a succession of miscommunicated and misconceived ideas as the dialogue unfolds, revolving around foreign cultures,
commercial production, allegory, religion and so on. Meanwhile, imbedded in the dialogue are about 20 important contemporary
art exhibition titles, aesthetic philosophical quotes, as well as titles of books on economics theory. These otherwise ‘highly important
and charged’ titles and quotes in their respective fields are used here in an insignificant, if not pointless and petty, quarrel between
two people whose perspectives already misalign, showing how seemingly fixed meaning and value can fluctuate in altered contexts.
The work’s many layers of discursive appropriation and misplacement culminate in its symbolic ending, where a prolonged
closeup shot of a bee—a longstanding allegorical creature whose unwavering diligence enables perfectly functional collective
productivity much like that of the Capitalist ideal—reveals its hairy and spiky anatomical features, eating from one flower after
another until it dies from gluttony. We don’t know if a bee could really die from overeating, yet the overfed bee here is a fictional
fragment and its greedy nature a deliberate attribution by the artist, just as the hardworking bee and its wonderful diligent nature
was once born through an intentional design to set a certain model for us.
2018 Isolated Above, Connected Down, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery. New York, USA.
installation view at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery ↓
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