The Gloomy Wonderland that Ceaselessly Interchanges with Reality
– On Jiang Zhi’s Solo Exhibition “Above the White”
In this exhibition, we bid farewell to the Jiang Zhi who is filled with fantasies, touching on sociological investigation, unveiling realistic metaphors, and encounter this Jiang Zhi who is beyond time, illusory, dreamy, melancholic, but still neurotically sexy. Art no longer serves as a media carrying any information, but becomes a kind of breath instead. It is like there are two Jiang Zhi(s) taking turns to appear in the works signed by Jiang Zhi. Of course, maybe there is a third Jiang Zhi existing in some other space, who was created by words.
1. Ambiguous duality: On the White, Corner, Sleepless shows the transfiguration in separation, entanglement, struggle, and mer’gence. Enshrouded by white gauze, the difference between man and woman becomes ambiguous and inexplicit. The duality of it is sublimed, blended and made vague, just like the concealment and illusion he had created with white mist. Definite depression and sexual fantasy become invalid here.
2. Sexual act: The function of male and female genitals is replaced by dance posts here. It’s been upgraded from a satisfaction of needs with practical value to economic exchange value. It becomes a set of erotic symbols that could be publicly circulated in the visual system, as well as an ideal sample of negating gender. Every intersection, combination and transformation become the metaphor of a kind of legitimate relationship between man and woman, a kind of visual combination, and a type of show that could be opened to the public.
3. Strip dance: A successful strip dance is not about sexual intercourse with the audience. Instead, it creates a taboo around itself. It is a subtle vanity, with some distance from physical desire, a perfect abstraction, a holy, inviolable and sealed nude. The shallow nude on the beach could only carries class ranking of social plutonomy, but the delicate yet elaborate subject in Sleepless is the avoidance, camouflage and concealment of realism and naturalism, which acquires a kind of poetic significance. The slow rhythm of strip dancing seems like fireworks in slow motion. The Beginning of the Universe brings a poetic and slow descent. It is a divine hypothesis, which gives you time to imagine and leap before its completion. It keeps switching between two worlds, the reality and the wonderland.
4. Transparent gauze: “You are more naked than natural in black silk stockings.” Closed and smooth white gauze enshrouding the naked body, with no rupture, no thrum, no interface and no flaw. Thus the nude becomes semi-transparent, perfect, asexual, smooth, and depilated. The gauze clings to the body, transformed into the second layer of skin, becoming closed off, a transparent glass-like membrane existing in abstract perpetuity. The transparent gauze becomes the holy aura of the body, a perfect body that is self-content and self-idolizing, which gives rise to the gloomy wonderland.
5. Rumples: The fabric in the work presents a kind of silver Baroque rumples. They are concrete , flexuous, continuous, pervasive, ambiguous, with multiple sides, and extend to eternity. They separate the closeness and liberation, internal and external, as well as truth and appearance. The rumples’ uneven structure filled the whole picture in a single color block with subtle changes of tone. There are endless vertical cloth curtains, the rumples covering the nude bodies signifying structure, just like shadow of a secret spirit point casted upon the material. They merge and vibrate in the white trance, just like an illusion from drugs, or the “rumples of sleep” described by Deleuze.
6. Phallus: The concept of “Phallus” introduced by Lacan is not the “penis” of Freud’s “castration complex”. Phallus provides the reason for desire, which is the absence of language. If desire is the metonymy of the existence of absence, then the self could be the metonymy of desire. Human desire comes from the unconsciousness of the Other’s desire. Castration corresponds with the deficiency of capacity that humans can imagine but are not able to realise. The multiple curtains and spaces, white walls, the emptiness inside the space, imply castration at a deeper spiritual level. It was called “essence” by Proust, which could be considered as the stalwart, lost and frustrated fear and expression of self- absence.
7. Death: In The Constantly Reaffirming External World, the lens of Jiang Zhi focused on the corners of everyday life. With tones approximating black and white, it methodically restores a flash of nervous confusion under conditions of detention when isolated from the outside space. A black gauze curtain with glimmering light brings vital imagination. “I would exit alone in the festival, with no aspiration in this colorful and joyful world.” (Victor, Hugo) Fireworks become a partially presented material like decomposed light. The slow and scattered light spots become a kind of dissipation, dismemberment, and destruction of material. Instead of reminding people about the birth of the universe like the title The Beginning of the Universe, it is more proclaiming the vanishing or demolition of death. Just like the “six as” in the philosophy of oriental Buddhism, as bubble, as dream, as mist, as dew, as shadow, as lightning. Death no longer serves as the opposite of life, instead, it becomes this impulse of nirvana, an ultimate goal of life, a liberation of desire, and an Utopia of freedom. The end of every life is death, and the death of non-life exists before life. The other side of outside is the inside, being ceaselessly reaffirmed, but never completely duplicated, to let go of what is past, allowing us to appreciate the zen in “the riptide-like mind of humans.”