On a crowded bus ride in Beijing, Chinese artist Liu Di noticed his surroundings. “Looking out at the decrepit housing blocks”, he said, “I had a vague but strong feeling that there was something missing between the ground and the sky.” It was then that he had the idea for his 2008 series, Animal Regulation, an almost cinematic display of enlarged animals sitting amongst the ‘urban ruins’ of the city of Beijing. Using photoshop, he seamlessly embedded these wild, large animals into Beijing’s forgotten and depleted back streets, construction sites and tenement courtyards.
With the addition of the gigantic,exotic animals, Di not only tries to fill the void that he notices as he travels through the city, but most importantly, he attempts to draw attention to these spaces in a big and scandalous way. We cannot help but notice ‘the big panda in the room’, and that, I think, is the kind of reaction the artist is looking for. The metaphorical animal living amongst the city of Beijing alludes to deeper issues here–the void is filled with an unwanted visitor and in order for it to go away something must change.
Di’s political undertones cannot be missed.
“Between nature and human society, between the material world and the intellect, between obedience to and violation of the laws of nature. It is only when our preconceptions are jolted that we wake up and truly see.”
These photographs are part of Barbara Pollack’s My Generation, an exhibition that acts as the first in the U.S to focus solely on the new post-Mao generation of dissident Chinese artists. The catalogue includes works by Sun Xun, Lu Yang, Ai Wei Wei’s former assistant, Zhao Zhao and many more. The show is currently being co-presented in two venues simultaneously through a unique collaboration between Tampa Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts in St.Petersburg, FL. My Generation will be on view until September 28th, 2014.