Yu Ji, Spontaneous Decisions II, Centre Pompidou x West Bund Museum Project, 2021
After “Remain Calm”, the project by Nile Koetting presented in 2019-2020, Gallery 0 is hosting Shanghai based artist Yu Ji, whose artistic research over the past ten years has focused on the work of time in the face of the rapidly changing urban world. Her work evokes sculpture as a perpetual project in which mass, texture, materials and form compose a temporary landscape. Working in situ using each specific location and context, she creates a liminal space between two worlds, a sensitive field to host opposing forces and produce fertile accidents.
Yu Ji’s practice is based on the techniques of sculpture, a traditional medium that she reinterprets through installations, performance and video. The duration and manual transformation of materials are central to her work. Her Flesh in Stone series, begun in 2012, places particular importance on the sculptural process and relates to the principle of imprint through the direct contact between the object and its representation.
This method, traditionally associated with the fine arts, is subverted through her use of construction materials recovered in the public space. Concrete, mortar, rebars and construction debris are the primary materials of her assemblages. The human figure erupts from them in fragmented, faceless forms. She seems to question the place of the individual and the human scale in today’s society. Bent or straight bodies, scaled down or enlarged, are assembled with structures that position them alone or in groups. They play an active role in the space and captivate the spectator with their haracteristic unfinished nature.
In her Ta Jama series, which she also begun in 2012, the artist sculpted concrete blocks to give them the appearance of rough stone. Enigmatic, organically shaped boulders inhabit the space with their weight and are covered by the artist with vibrant textures: moss, resin and sometimes her own hair. Lastly, with the Lento series, Yu Ji explores the formation of structures based on the behaviour of materials subject to the effects of gravity. Metal chains and resin form hanging canopies imbued with a strong physical presence and, at the same time, luminous transparency.
Spontaneous Decisions is the title of a series of performances that Yu Ji began in 2016. She initiated the project as part of her “Black Mountain” exhibition at the Beijing Commune Gallery (Bejing) and continued it in 2017 at am Space, a venue that she co-founded in 2008 in Shanghai as a space for exchanges, collaborative work and artistic presentations to share with local and visiting artists. The project is based on the activation of elements in her exhibition through a performance in which she shares the space with guest artists. She brings the materials of the installation into play through open scenarios to which each person brings their own reading.
In Gallery 0 of the Centre Pompidou x West Bund Museum Project, the artist develops another version of this project, based on a new installation. In the museum setting, she invites the spectator to reflect on the studio. The place of artistic activity is half revealed, showing a room within a room that will host creative work in progress during the first six days of the exhibition. The overall theme questions the driving principle of the decision in the artistic gesture: major or imperceptible, open or determined, methodical or improvised.
Three artists have also been invited to explore these principles and will participate in the exhibition alongside Yu Ji: electronic musician Yan Jun, performance artist Wu Meng and video artist Chen Zhou. Each one activates the space in his or her own way, interconnecting different temporalities with that of the plastic process. Live performance, sound and moving images contribute their own forms of expression and duration. These diverse, sedimented vibrations mix with the energies of the audience in an environment that offers an encounter with diverse experiences of sight and sound.
Yu Ji currently lives and works in Shanghai and Vienna. Her creations include installation, sculpture, performance and video, among which sculpture is the core of her work. She focuses on ideas created with time, space and movement, usually using the least materials to imbed immateriality and intangibles into material existence. Graduated from the Fine Art College of the University of Shanghai in 2011, she co-founded in 2008 with Deng Yeming the am Space in Shanghai, an independent artistic programming space.
Yu Ji’s work has been exhibited in many international institutions, including the Palais de Tokyo (2014), the Times Museum in Guangzhou (2014), the Gwangju Biennial (2016), the Shanghai Biennale (2016), the HOW Art Museum in Shanghai (2020). Her recent group exhibitions include: “May You Live In Interesting Times”, 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia (2019); “Soon Enough: Art in Action”, Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm (2018); “Hugo Boss Asia Art: Award for Emerging Asian Artists”, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai (2017). After her project “Spontaneous Decisions II” at the Centre Pompidou x West Bund Museum Project, she will present another monographic exhibition, “Wasted Mud”, at the Chisenhale Gallery, London, from May 2021.