video (colour, sound)
5 min 31 sec
Experiencing the effects of rapid social and economic change throughout their post-Mao childhood and youth, Li Ming and his peers – mostly single children born during the most vigilant policing of the years of the One Child Policy – felt there was an almost unbridgeable chasm between themselves and preceding generations. Many traditional Chinese cultural practices had been erased by the Cultural Revolution, and their disappearance from daily life was further hastened by globalisation. Life seemed to be in constant flux, hostage to unstoppable economic and political forces: old understandings of the social compact were broken. Li Ming’s response to this upheaval is expressed obliquely, through allegory. He is interested in space and time, in the blurred edges and liminal spaces between things and people. In his earlier video work XX (2009) two young men seated rather incongruously in a forest glade attempt to exchange singlets without their torsos losing contact; they writhe and wriggle silently in an exquisite agony of self-consciousness. The video reveals the tensions of male friendship verging on desire, never quite tipping over from camaraderie into submission to the erotic impulse. It’s an absurdist ballet of awkwardness that is also poignant and tender.