Chisenhale Gallery presents Wasted Mud, the first solo exhibition in a UK institution by Shanghai-based artist Yu Ji. Comprising sculpture, video, print and performance, Yu Ji’s work often responds to a specific context or location to examine the interplay between the human body and its surrounding space.
Motivated by an acute sensitivity to materials, Yu Ji’s work explores a tension between physical matter and energy. Recurring materials used in her work, such as cement, wood, metal, plastic and organic matter all have their distinctive characteristics, tactility and ‘temperatures’. In her installations, these materials oppose, rub and strike against one another; proposing by their proximity how they might merge, combine or absorb one into the other.
Influenced by research conducted during a residency at our exhibition partners Delfina Foundation, in 2019, Yu Ji’s new commission sees London as a site to explore the body in relation to our built and natural environments. Taking her experience of the city’s canals and rivers as a starting point, Yu Ji’s installation acts as a ‘living sculpture’, where, through the use of water, Yu Ji alters the gallery’s seemingly fixed structure.
Building on Yu Ji’s ongoing series of fragmented concrete torsos, the exhibition includes two new concrete sculptures depicting bodies bound and moulded together, one contained within plaster and wood. Influenced by the birth of her first child, this new series of sculptures comments on human interdependence, exchange and transformation.
Hung from the gallery walls and hovering just above the floor is Jaded Ribs (2021), a large handmade net filled with recycled wreckage from local construction sites in Tower Hamlets, alongside objects from the artist’s studio in Shanghai. Ten plastic tubes connected to a self-regulating electronic water pump slowly leak plant-infused water throughout the gallery space, altering the exterior of her sculptures and seeping liquid into the building’s floor.
Wasted Mud develops Yu Ji’s ongoing enquiry into a symbiotic relationship between her body and specific terrains and contexts in which she works. By transforming the gallery into a site under construction, where what is considered debris reveals its potential for hidden vitality, Yu Ji’s new body of work exposes our reliance upon one another and renews focus on the spaces that contain and sustain us.
Accompanying the exhibition is a bilingual publication in English and Mandarin Chinese Wasted Mud, produced by Chisenhale Gallery, Sadie Coles HQ, Edouard Malingue Gallery and Verlagder Buchhandlung Walther und Franz König, which will be distributed in June 2021.
As part of Chisenhale Gallery’s commissioning process, a bespoke series of talks and events is programmed in collaboration with each artist to run throughout the duration of every exhibition. Yu Ji’s commission was originally programmed as part of Chisenhale Gallery’s Commissions Programme for 2020, which comprised four new exhibitions by artists Imran Perretta, Thao Nguyen Phan, Yu Ji and Abbas Akhavan. Postponed due to the pandemic, Yu Ji’s exhibition now opens in May 2021, followed by Abbas Akhavan’s commission in Summer 2021. In Autumn 2021, Chisenhale Gallery will present a new body of work by artist Rindon Johnson, co- commissioned and produced by SculptureCentre, New York.