Artist: Xiao Lu
Performance Time: PM, 23th Oct. 2016
Location: Danish Cultural Center
Exhibition: Beijing Live (一）
Curator: Jonas Stampe
Photograph: Yi zilei, Yang Chao photo studio
Using a ladder, Xiao Lu enters a space 1.8m tall 1.2m square built with 25cm thick ice blocks. With a sharp knife bought in Longyear-byen in Svalbard, she begins stabbing and chiselling at the ice. Unfortunately, during the performance, the palm of her right hand is cut open over 7 cm by the knife. Xiao Lu immediately puts her hand on the ice. The cold numbs the pain. This allows her to continue chopping at the ice for 30 minutes, until two holes are cut through the ice. Xiao Lu feels dizzy and stops the performance. The curator and several spectators pull her out. After Xiao Lu is finally sent to Beijing Jishuitan Hospital, and three muscles and one tendon have been severed. At 11:30 pm, Xiao Lu is wheeled into the operating theatre, where the three-hour operation finishes at 2:30 am.
If Xiao Lu’s work Dialogue addresses social reflections on the problems of the male versus female genders, the work Polar is the ultimate reflection on the paradox of human freedom. The manifestation and sublimation of the universal value of Polar surpasses all Xiao Lu’s previous works.
Viewed in terms of the history of human development, the paradox of human freedom is first and last about good and evil, and also first and last becomes the symbol of a system. Does the system become the prison of human freedom? There is no doubt that the production of the paradox of human freedom is both the beginning of the system and its ending. In a certain sense, human beings are gregarious animals. Perhaps the harmony of the gregarious surface comes from the foundation of the system. Does the system in this case really allow the great majority of people to achieve freedom? Does it rely on good or on evil? In Xiao Lu’s work, the visual logic of the metaphorical production of the interaction between the phone-booth-shaped wall of ice and the human being gives people multiple cultural imaginings and political imaginings. We can see in the elements of ice, knife, of the human being and her blood in Xiao Lu's work Polar the passionate desire for, and the hardship involved in achieving, human freedom. Although the freezing point and the surrounding siege of evil can imprison the human body, the use of the courage of good, and of blood, carves out the cruelty and romance of freedom. It is suffocating. It is also exciting. In particular it is the sharp knife carving through the ice, the flowers of freedom formed by the combination of the broken ice shards, fresh blood and knife, the use of beautiful cruelty, that revives the numbed humanity of altruism in the viewers. This time, the humanity of innate freedom does not belong only to Xiao Lu, but also to every innately free viewer. Although good and evil go together in mankind, he ultimate pursuit of altruism is the background of human freedom. This is the revelation that the strongly universal value of Xiao Lu’s work Polar gives us.
- Tong Yujie
Polar video (Part )
Video: Zhang Zhiqiang, Li Kai
Edit: Xiao Lu, Zhang Li