Jen Liu: Drastic Measures, Unknown Pleasures. 31 October – 30 November 2008
New York artist, Jen Liu depicts moments from a world in which the worst has come true, and the ruins of civilization try to make the best of an environmental collapse. In drawings, collages, video and installation, different voices and gestures from this world battle their way to the surface.
What at first seemed like the end has been averted. Out of an ugly dream, equilibrium has been found, and all the parts fit: each division a wheel, together a mass of wheels in a machine that fulfils its mission, marching forwards with no fear for the future.
To those that have the seen the dark of the night, we say: do not be afraid, we will ensure that you see the dawn. To those that have seen the floodwaters tapping at your door, we say: as you saw those waters recede, so will you see the difficulties that bind, snapped in our imminent future of freedom.
This is all just a brief coda; we stand poised to receive our bright future. Do not be afraid.
BEEKEEPERS: Keeping each in its place
THE FARMERS: Growth without end
ENFORCEMENT: Serve and protect
CRUNCH DIVISION: Buns of steel
PEACE DIVISION: The voyage within
VISION DIVISION: See no evil
JOY DIVISION: Hear no evil
“I’ll first try to persuade the rulers and the soldiers and then the rest of the city that the upbringing and the education we gave them, and the experiences that went with them, were a sort of dream, that in fact they themselves, their weapons, and the other craftsmen’s tools were at that time really being fashioned and nurtured inside the earth, and that when the work was completed, the earth, who is their mother, delivered all of them up into the world.” Plato’s Republic, 414 d-e
In Drastic Measures, Unknown Pleasures, Jen Liu depicts moments from a world in which the worst has come true, and the ruins of civilization try to make the best of an environmental collapse. In drawings, collages, video and installation, different voices and gestures from this world battle their way to the surface.
The collective and salvaging are key concerns in this new body of work; fleeting moments of early 20th century geometric abstraction meet pop cultural references, collages translated into larger drawings attempt to recover form from content and official accounts of history are literally defaced by conflicting individual ideas. Citizens enjoy a moment of collective musical dreaming from a life that has become too grim for words.