Using a form of documentary fiction, Li Jingxiong makes complex installations - as well as graphic works - made from found materials such computer keyboards and monitors on platforms of wood, copper and steel. He has used fire as a way to embrace chaos and lack of control, burning luxury clothing in an act of resistance and as a symbol of the ‘learned helplessness’ of the individual in a world dominated by powerful corporate economics, where businesses, who willfully gamble on ambitious technological development at the expense of society for a non-negotiable and undemocratic ‘social progress’, are under scrutiny. Damaging computers is his response to notions of a society that is both controlling and destructive, an act made in defiance of collective fear that the technologies we learn to crave are simultaneously enslaving us. Here the artist addresses the brutality and tragedy of our virtual lives with the consequent psychopathologies of surviving contemporary life.
Li Jingxiong questions the sacrifice of tradition and social bonds in exchange for technological advancement. Exploring connections between luxury consumption and the everyday aesthetics of consumerism he expresses a uniquely Chinese anxiety, the particular social mechanisms and the possibilities for individualism under a dominant state capitalist economy, looking to disturb viewers habits and interrogate the systems that govern the social construct. ‘Li’s work could be considered as a collection of ruins from an alternative fiction, rescued from the flux of social evolution, set against the background of Chinese reality, highlighting the aesthetic system of violence and social pessimism that the world is not concerned about’. Strongly alluding to notions of an apocalyptic future, the artist skillfully suggests that the dystopia we fear is already a reality in present-day China, where schools resemble factories and economic and political injustice result in oppression and brutality.
Li Jingxiong, born 1987, Anhui, completed an MFA in 2013 at Nanjing University of the Arts, where he became a teacher and contributed to the founding of the Department of Experimental Art. He lives and works in Shanghai. Li Jingxiong’s works have been exhibited at K11 Museum, Goethe Institute and Pearl Lam Gallery as well as at Sifang Museum, Nanjing.