• Date
      2015.03.21 - 2015.05.17
    • Artist
      Li Ran
    • Curator
  • Links
  • Images

Re-projecting – One or Many Roles

Li Ran Solo Exhibition

A leading member of the emerging generation, Li Ran’s approach to art has made him distinct amongst his peers. He has painted, produced installations, but his primary means of expression is the moving image. More, it is the artist himself, his presence as an actor in the works to date that marks the real distinction of his art. The videos are often recordings of theatrical performances in the guise of short films.
The approach is stylish and mature: Li Ran has an extraordinary grasp of the power of performance, which is his conduit for challenging viewer perceptions of the world, of human relationships and of social habits. To achieve this, Li Ran parodies romantic, epic narratives, documentaries and so-called objective modes of reporting and interviewing found in mainstream visual culture, most commonly as television programming, theatre and music of expressly mainstream forms, redeploying these popular approaches to various new ends. This may be to reference issues of art history and art’s current relation to society. As a pastiche of biography, Another The Other Story conflates the story of the artist’s father with the clichés of artistic torment which for those artists in or of a minority, excluded from mainstream opportunities, seems to mock or denigrate their struggle to gain recognition.
It may be society’s general propensity to stereotype the world at large that Li Ran takes to task. Beyond Geography is a compelling mock-umentary in which he plays the lead role as a modern-day David Attenborough on the trail of the lost “Shynna Babajiaharo” tribe. An apparently light-hearted documentary, this spoof has a dark side. As it unravels contradictions in narrating history or biography as factual or unbiased documents, we walk away wondering who is primitive? Who is subject or object? Who gets to decide? These familiar standard narrative formats become a self-reflecting mirror, upon which, through which, Li Ran “re-projects” complex cultural exigencies as (almost) universal human experiences, altered just enough to convey his message. A good example is From Truck Driver to the Political Commissar of the Mounted Troops, which tackles the conflation of idealism with ideology; what can be the consequences of youthful ambition becoming overlaid with political responsibilities? Here, literally and metaphorically, we find the “one or many roles” to which Li Ran refers in the exhibition’s title.
The moving image is a fine vehicle for exposing the duplicity of “truth” that is, to most of us, ingrained in reality recorded as moving images so deeply as to blind us to its faults, be those prejudices or inaccuracies. Li Ran’s new work Untitled: Song of the Lakebed is a conscious deception, achieved by linking footage as a chain of moving images that, as a result of being spliced together, appear to be related elements of a single narrative, but which is naturally not the case at all. The images derive from Li Ran’s archive, poetic fragments of places visited or visual notes recorded using a video camera for future reference; a new meaning as is found in Untitled: Song of the Lakebed where the footage is subtly repurposed to satisfy the artist’s intent.
“Re-projecting – One or Many Roles” further includes the artist’s extraordinary debut performance work Mont Sainte-Victoire, reconfigured here as a new installation, and a new commission, Lamplights, Props and Supports, unveiled for the first time.

About the Artist

Li Ran was born in Hubei in 1986. Li Ran graduated from Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in 2009. He currently lives and works in Beijing.


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