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21 Apr 2011

Today Art Museum presents Shi Jinsong's new work

Shi Jinsong, invitation card

Today Art Museum


April 22 - May 11 2011 Opening times: Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm

Dong Jie
8610 5876 0600

Today Art Museum
Baiziwan Road
Beijing 100024

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Shi Jinsong solo exhibition
Curated by Karen Smith

Mass, volume, scale; words commonly used to describe modern China in all its myriad facets. Across China, but especially here in Beijing, mass volume and scale are everywhere; physically and materially, psychologically and metaphorically.

In Penetrate mass, volume and scale converge. Penetrate is a physical mass constructed from a volume of materials and on a scale that is monumental in form. Bound up—literally, by wires and rope—within its very being is an expression of the excesses of modern China; from the scale of factory production to the volume of items produced; from the mass of materials discarded as new replaces old, to the scale of the impact this has upon the environment.

Reclaiming these surplus materials from the collection depots that grow up on the fringes of the city, Shi Jinsong recycles them as a physical work of art. Wooden beams from traditional architectural structures are bound together with old tree trunks, pipes, tubes and steel joists fill the gaps and add volume of their own. But in being bound together, their new role is not to form a simple mass. Instead, they serve as part of a new structure that whilst not entirely functional is a tunnel of sorts; a shelter, a space for visitors to enter, and to experience this, Shi Jinsong's latest experiment with art.

In this new departure, our engagement with Penetrate does not conform to the customary fashion of looking at art. Parodying the fact that, as we pursue our desires, we are so often blind to the mess we make of our environment and to the garbage we produce each day as a result, Shi Jinsong presents Penetrate in a darkened space. Viewing becomes an active activity for we are compelled to seek out the art works in this exhibition. The darkness slows us down. Before we see the mass that penetrates the space, we sense its presence in the air, both through our nostrils and that intangible sixth sense that usually signals potential danger.

Whilst Penetrate does not represent any physical danger, in referencing the past—one meaning of the Chinese title 'guo qu/过去'—it alludes to an indeterminable future, and the passage of time that necessarily links our journey between the two. And yet, as a piece of art, Penetrate is not so literal. It suggests. It moots. But above all, it holds still, preserves its silence and, instead, penetrates our minds. In so doing, it plants there the seeds of insight. To nurture them or ignore them, that choice is ours, but as Penetrate suggests, we will live with the consequences.