sculpture/sculptural painting, 52 x 52 x 7 inch, 2019
This work was made in New York in early March 2020, right before the US declared Public Health Emergency of COVID-19 outbreak. Meanwhile, the lockdown of Wuhan (and some other cities around), China, where the pandemic originated, was going to the last stage. At the time, China was the first and the only country to enforce the quarantine and lockdown of cities and later whole provinces, starting at the end of January. Although such measures are a very old tool of epidemic control, their use at the scale of a large city such as Wuhan or the even larger scale of provinces was controversial among experts at the time, with questions on their effectiveness and their ethics. Some public health experts, while not always condemning the measure, raised the issue of the inevitable psychological toll such measures would have. An ex- World Health Organization (WHO) official who headed the organization's Western Pacific Region during the SARS outbreak said that "the containment of a city [hadn’t] been done in the history of international public health policy." The WHO called the decision to quarantine Wuhan "new to science". By early April, all lockdowns had ended or relaxed to a certain degree as the cases started to dwindle and the outbreak had come under control.
This sculpture Enclosure presents an inundated map with black ink being surrounded by white mountains. The mountains white desert made by papier-mâché, which is frail and robust, susceptible to puncture and able to weather the years. Unlike clay or cement, papier-mâché has a special duality — lightness and play hinting at emptiness and discontent — that strengthens the unsettling and riveting sense of the work. The basin of map, including the ink flood, is being frozen by resin, like the moment everyone was paused and trapped. The inner is dirty, chaotic, and dark, while the outside is a total white desert.
Enclosure is a natural expression of my feeling as a Chinese living abroad, at the time witnessing the dilemma of residents in the locked cities online. On the one side, hundreds and millions of locked people were struggling against the COVID-19 and the derivative problems of the lockdown policy in China; on the other side, the life in Canada and US is running as usual, while no one seemed to take what was happening in China seriously and live their own lives. Not even mentioning they are losing the chance of learning the lesson from China and preventing the world from a global crisis. The binary sense of reality, as well as the overload of information, was ruptured and overlapped. The locked cities were like an enclosed space covered by vacuum glass – we see what is inside but cannot hear its voice.
sculpture/sculptural painting (details), 52 x 52 x 7 inch, 2019