June 10, 2023

For the exhibition “Riddle Bodies,” Shao Chun stages an intimate encounter between a home and its new inhabitants: the artworks. Seizing on the apartment setting of the Macalline Art Center’s Cloister Project, Shao distributes her latest sculptural installations throughout the entire residence. In the kitchen, the installation Super Clean (all works 2022) pumps bubble foam under a cluster of entwined knots that endlessly rids itself of the accumulating residue. In the nearby study, The Lure emits a discreet hum broadcast from mini electronic devices seeded in a nest of plastic pipes that have been wrapped in lampshade frames and synthetic hair. Meanwhile, in the southern bedroom, Art Chrysalid confronts viewers with what appears to be the wake of a rupture: Clear fluids drip down tentacular tubes, as mist spews from dangling sacks resembling oversize disposable shower caps.

As the “riddle” of the exhibition title suggests, perhaps there is an alternative way of perceiving these works. Soft yet malleable materials like silicone, muslin, and tarpaulin combine with organic elements like sea urchins and shells to suggest skin both natural and artifical. Beauty products, including false eyelashes, synthetic hair, and makeup sponges, allude to consumers’ desire for a youthful-looking body, while the sharp metals of fish hooks and steel wires present an underlying threat.

Shao’s Frankensteinian “body specimens” bring to mind the art of Ivana Bašić and Mire Lee. While the latter two artists use flexible substances to defy fixed forms and the finitude of reality, Shao’s works focus on the struggle of escape (a phenomenon that is particularly relevant in our grueling pandemic era). A prisoner to both the surrounding environment and an inner turmoil, the body in Shao’s sculptures slowly surrenders to emotions of loss, anxiety, and fear, which morph and manifest into physical wounds, visible from the outside.

Translated from Chinese by Jy Deng.

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