ShanghART Beijing is pleased to present the fourth chapter of special project ‘First Spring’ on 10 July. Featured in the final instalment will be two works of art: ‘Fireworks (Fans)’ by Apichatpong Weerasethakul and ‘The Parentheses Corridor and Hand Washing Basins’ by Lu Lei.
One of the foremost artists in contemporary Chinese installation art, Lu Lei is known for creating shapes and images of vivid imagination. Often exuding classical, mystical qualities, his work reveals precise control of material texture and spatial structure. The 2019 large-scale installation on view, ‘The Parentheses Corridor and Hand Washing Basins’, derived from Lu Lei’s memories of growing up in a chemical industry compound. The artist transformed the long, straight tiled corridors and public basins into a spiral tower that stands over a circular square, while encouraging viewers to experience this spectacle by washing their hands. Water slowly flows down from the faucets, which can be considered a wry reference to the classic scene of ‘garden fountains’, or reminiscent of ‘square-monument’, the collective historical symbol.
This sensibility to social and personal memory has also been captured in the practices of the internationally acclaimed Thai artist and filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul. A subtle blend of reality and illusion with fleeting light and shadow, Apichatpong’s work seeks to evoke meditation on the past and future. Through his 2016 video installation ‘Fireworks (Fans)’, audiences immerse themselves in a cave-like ritual, gathering to simply take in the light. For Apichatpong, it is the most primitive form of cinema back when stories were imagined from a blaze. This piece also alludes to the artist’s everyday life in Chiang Mai that is surrounded by insects, heat and smoke during March. Fire brings both comfort and destruction: here it burns in the air like a living being, with phantom fans blowing away the heat and yet stoking the flames, which can never be put out, even in dreams.