(Original language: Mandarin)
HU XIAOYUAN: Everything is in the process of fading away, but due to the brevity of our life there are some things that we don't notice. I'm currently thinking a lot about the issue of authenticity. It's an important aspect of how I perceive and think about this world and existence.
As an artist or as an individual, it's a fundamental part of my existence. In this exhibition, I depicted a pomegranate through my usual method. I found a very plump pomegranate in great shape at the supermarket and then I brought it back to the studio and applied xiao, which I often use in my creations.
Xiao is a pure and natural raw silk woven in a traditional way. I used it to tightly wrap the pomegranate and sew it up so it fit closely to its surface. I'm using xiao and I find the material itself intensely… biological.
It is a type of purely animal-derived material. It is woven with the simplest plain weave method and it's very, very clean, meaning only silk is used. Probably because of the interconnectedness of different organisms I am able to perceive certain qualities in this fabric.
For example, I can feel the breath of life in the material. After wrapping it, and as I often do, I use ink to paint all of the visible details on the pomegranate. We all know that the fruit will dry out and shrink as time passes. As it gets drier and drier, the xiao layer covering the surface also changes over time. That's when it becomes interesting.
We all have the initial assumption that seeing is believing and that what we see is real. In this case, the initial layer I painted was what is believed to be the most authentic state of the pomegranate, but after a few months, it changed to this. So, which one of these two pomegranates is real?
Artist Hu Xiaoyuan discusses how her work Spheres of Doubt plays with notions of authenticity, as its organic materials change as time passes.
Spheres of Doubt (2019) questions if seeing really is believing. The components of the installation are all overlaid with xiao, a kind of raw silk. The surface details of the objects—which include steel structures, a pomegranate, used bricks, and soap—are finely traced with ink on the fibre that covers them. The raw silk on the steel structures has been aged for over one year.
Hu’s practice encompasses installation, video, sculpture, and painting, often drawing from specific experiences to address abstract topics related to time, space, consciousness, and existence. Spheres of Doubt articulates a perspective on the passage of time, including the slow shrinking of fruit and the gradual deterioration of the raw silk. The changes are recorded by scars, surface markings, and the hollow spaces that develop between the objects and the silk.
This video was originally published on M+ Stories.
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