HOW Art Museum announces "SKY: Shi Jinsong Solo Exhibition" opening on June 18


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HOW Art Museum (Shanghai) is pleased to announce SKY, Shi Jinsong solo exhibition, will be on view from June 18 to August 22, 2021. The exhibition features the Armors, a recent series that the artist has been working on for years, and presents dozens of installation and interactive mixed-media work. Fostering a linkage between the spiritual and reality worlds, the exhibition leads viewers into the simulacrum world of the artist’s consciousness land. 

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Swadding Armor Chair, 2007Stainless Steel | 57x36.5x57cm | Courtesy of the artist

The Chinese title “世盖” (shi gai) is what Shi Jinsong names his own world of consciousness. With his Wuhanese accent, it sounds a bit like the word “world” in Chinese and “sky” in English. Moreover, if we swap the two Chinese characters, it forms a mirror image of gai shi (盖世), which means “unparalleled”. 

The exhibition features recent works from the artist’s Armors series. The various 3D images deriving from the fragments of his consciousness constitute a “world of armors”, which to the artist is an intimate moving castle, a portable state under his sovereignty, a set of body-based mind armor and an externalized illustration of spirituality. 

His recent works and the exhibition carry on his long-term investigation into self-consciousness. Also, the appropriation and creative misinterpretation of traditional armor and modern mecha embody a continuation of his practice of cultural reproduction which was firstly perceived in his previous solo exhibition The Third Reproduction

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Girl pig’s Corselets, 2008

Stainless Steel | 38x29x96cm |Courtesy of the artistArmor not only symbolizes a protective covering of the artist’s consciousness. The physical properties of armor in turn imbue it with a variety of subtle cultural implications such as isolation, alienation, confrontation, segregation and island-becoming, making it an intuitive projection of public and personal spaces of the post-pandemic era. 

While creating segregation and isolation, armor also stands for an artistic demonstration of philosophical concepts such as “body without organs” and “bare life”, casting light on the new and changing definition of body within the contemporary context. If the “armor” in Shi Jinsong’s work represents evolution and transformation of body functions, his inventive reorganization of the armors also reflects his pondering upon contemporary bio-politics and body management as well as the impact of new technologies on the once steadfast order systems. 

As a type of special costume, armor could be deemed as a kind of externalization of skin and skeleton. In the exhibition, it could be perceived the artist’s attempts to explore the relation between fashion design and architectural aesthetics. When the artist damages, combines and reconstructs the armors, it also alludes to the prominent linguistic traits of the Internet culture – modularization and synthesis. 

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Exotic fantasy wood Swadding Armor, 2008

Material Stainless Steel in color | 36x33x60cm | Courtesy of the artist

Shi Jinsong’s “world of armors” casts light on the ideology of self-sovereignty and public space. And in the meantime, the artist also attempts to project his personal consciousness onto the new and broader public space – the digital space. Apart from presentation in physical space, Shi Jinsong further extends the exhibition into the virtual and digital space to reveal his reflection upon concepts such as mirror image and simulacrum. 

The dual presentations of the “world of armors” in both the physical and virtual spaces not only investigate the superposition and paralleling of different spaces, but also inquire into definitions and boundaries of art and commodity under the context of “cultural production”. While many people are enthusiastically working on the “commercialization of art”, Shi Jinsong, on the other hand, chooses a different path as he intends to achieve “artisticalization of commerce” through transformation and remaking of the symbols of consumer culture and popular culture. 

SKY not only opens a window to peep into the artist’s spiritual world as well as the public world in the contemporary context, but it also demonstrates the artist’s endeavors to redefine concepts such as reality and virtuality, cultural production and commodity manufacturing, outer form and flesh, technology and order, violence and civilization, cultural reproduction and plurality spirit, and to imbue them with a visible form for the future. 

Text by Liao Liao

About the exhibition

Duration: June 18 - August 22, 2021

Academic Advisor: Liao Liao

Venue: F3, HOW Art Museum (Shanghai),No. 1, Lane 2277, Zucongzhi Road, Shanghai

Organizer: HOW Art Museum

Courtesy of the artist and HOW Art Museum