Spring and Autumn 1

Bai Yiluo


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wood, metal farm tools, and screws
400 x 350 x 350 cm
'Spring and Autumn' is a life-sized tree, its branches and leaves made of old farm implements. Rakes, pitchforks and shovels are transformed into apparently living things, casting complex shifting shadows on the walls of the gallery space. In contrast to the revolutionary past, today’s get-rich-quick China has little respect for rural labour.' Spring and Autumn', however, suggests there is a quiet heroism in the backbreaking work of farming; it reminds us of the changing seasons and the pace and rhythms of the natural world that dictate the lives of those who till the soil. Spring and Autumn recalls the obsession with rural agriculture of Mao’s revolutionaries: the ill-fated campaigns to eradicate the sparrows during the Great Leap Forward that caused enormous hunger and hardship; the rustication programs that sent urban ‘educated youth’ to toil on communal farms. In his restrained use of weathered, rusted found objects, Bai Yiluo’s work is reminiscent of Ai Weiwei’s use of physical materials that symbolise China; Bai was Ai Weiwei’s studio assistant, and his poetic approach to found objects is similar. Like Ai’s transformations of Han Dynasty urns and Qing Dynasty furniture, Bai’s sculpture invites us to consider how the value ascribed to things and people changes over time.
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