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Bi Rongrong “Absolute”

We can know more than we can tell.

—-Michael Polanyi

In the 1960s, Polanyi introduced personal perspective into the process of scientific knowing by posing the self-contradictory “personal knowledge” as the opposite of objective knowledge. In this exhibition, Bi Rongrong boldly uses the gallery space to create an “absolute” structure of her own personal knowledge.

Bi Rongrong’s background in Chinese landscape sketching has nurtured her keen perceptivity towards the surrounding world, such that this sensitivity has become an integral part of herself. In modern society, the city streets may be the “landscape” (shanshui) of the industrial era. Although modernization itself has long been denounced, this landscape continues to reflect the relationship of one person to another, of a person to nature, and of a person to society. As such, it is rich with an energy of communal production. Graffiti, posters, advertisements, and architectural structures and patterns have passed through the artist’s eyes and become a form of power. This power drives her to take up brushes and, as if unconscious, record its “form.”

“What we believe” may be a falsity viewed with derision on the street, but Bi Rongrong has shifted it into the most formidable type of questioning. The posters left on the walls shape space and time by delineating a form, while the colored gradient background simulates the invisible energy flows that would be imperceptible outside of their two-dimensional context. Crucial as well are the experimental video works which make it possible for time to flow through the space. By playfully attempting to approach the “absolute,” they catch a glimpse of reality, only to find it is absent. Instead, the only thing that can be distinguished are tiny particles that extend out into a boundless drift. Just as we are helpless when faced with the limitless ocean of the cosmos and infinite worlds therein, we are able to grasp only the smallest piece of the world around us.

There is a tacit component to knowledge that cannot be conveyed through regulations or technologies. In the “Absolute” series, data, proportions, stories, and forms all gradually fade away as Bi Rongrong makes a direct connection with those energies. Through her artistic production, she pushes them to their limit. Rich with an unknown indeterminacy and intuition, the works exhibit the true self. As the audience members are subconsciously drawn into the work and perceive the artist’s self, they also create their own personal knowledge. A dialogue is possible. By stripping away the frameworks of rules and languages, communication becomes an adventure of endless variability.

In truth, these gossip-like patterns, logos, details and blocks of nameless color have an implicit connection to reality. It is a reality that, although it is all around us, is in fact difficult to see and often becomes lost. Beneath Bi Rongrong’s structures, this implicit reality has become the objectivity and absolute quality of her personal knowledge. These elements become a personal, cyclical whole in her work, a tool she uses to amass energy. Standing on a plateau, she raises her gaze to the absolute. Personal emotions, experiences, and an aesthetic quest become essential components of the real world that continues to collect these transformed symbols.

  • 2016-03--

    2016-03--