Hi, Here is Li, I am the curator and hot dry noodle maker in Bento Gallery, See you there!
Li's work is dedicated to exploring the paradoxical relationship between the individual and the larger social picture behind him. He has a knack for collecting and re-piecing together synchronicity images of life experiences. His recent art practice is about examining the Chinese artist as a kind of precarious worker, softening his experience of working with a group of Chinese workers on a British construction site with his initial impressions of the RCA campus, generating the virtual hybrid site Bento beside new RCA flagship building as an emulation of art institutions and an imagining of the organic growth of the city.
Let's walk through my solo exhibition!
This is a series of 12 still life images that I have recorded with my phone. After my boss purchased a factory earlier this year, he asked me to clean up the factory waste that was left behind by previous owners. In that 8000 square metre, there were abundant disposable items that await to be sorted. While going through these items, it came to my attention that some of these item have a warm properties that is in great contrast with the cold environment of the factory. These items then form the 12 images displayed in this first work.
Photos and videos in this work depict my role as a worker in getting the factory refurbished and ready to use. Moving containers and transportation of goods, by hand or forklift, are just one of the few things in my workload. I had to do a lot more than that, I had to be the boss's driver, prepare lunch for the boss and so on. The name of this work, "The most expensive thing in the UK is manpower” derives from a pet phrase from my boss who from time to time criticise and compare between Chinese and British workers, and made comments like, "Look how hard the Chinese workers work, if only all British workers were like our workers!"
When I using my laptop to paint Chinese landscapes during the off-duty hours in the process I start to think the relationship between the natural landscape and the modern city. The raw materials of bricks are extracted from mountain stone; architectures in the urban landscape are built from one brick to another. The building was given the name of an organisation or institution. All those buildings beget our society. Once the algorithm of a system is formed, it is unbreakable, and in this system, human beings are reduced to components of the social machine.
The nail art sculpture in the middle of the exhibition space is an agreement between me and Auntie Wong, the wife of a worker I met at a Welsh construction site. She used to own a nail salon and, after the pandemic, she began to take on home cleaning tasks with her previous team workers from nail salon. Auntie Wong told me that if she ever reopened a nail salon again, she would put the nail art I designed in the catalogue in her shop.
Central Art District is a project I have been working on recently; in order to address the growth of art practitioners in China, I have designed a possible habitat for artists in China. It is a place designated to bring the scattered art community on the edge of the city back to the heart of the city: the whole community is looming over the central business district, growing ruggedly like a mountain near the skyscrapers. I rewrite the original syntax of cities by overlaying the urban landscape with natural landscape, referring to the mobility-inverse Geometry through walls and across urban depths mentioned by Chief Aviv Kochavi of Israel Defence Forces, in the hopes that this will provide urban planners a new logic and perspective. If the problem in pre-established system is so deep-rooted that if it cannot be demolished, perhaps an integration of a completely different system that is overlaid on top of could yield a different outcome?
The video is a micro-documentary about me and a group of Chinese construction worker carrying our renovation in a church located in Wales.