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Alter-Circuit: Shiyuan Liu
My Paper Knife
September 25 - October 24, 2014
Reception: Thursday, September 25, 7:00 - 10:00 pm
Artist Talk: Saturday, September 27, 4:00 - 6:00 pm

Working along the borderline of photography, collage, video, film and theater, Beijing and Copenhagen-based artist Shiyuan Liu’s practice explores the limit of perception and experience, reality and fiction, and the rational and the obscure. For the first time on the West Coast, Alter-Circuit: Shiyuan Liu, My Paper Knife presents two of the artist’s works addressing notions and experience of cross-cultural borders. As Simple as Clay (2013) consists of postcard racks of 1140 images that generate visual associations among images of the material clay ­–a basic modeling tool that can be shaped and transformed into almost anything. To obscure the geographical source and cultural context of each image, a blue backdrop replaces the original background of each modeled object, which appears on the postcards. The six-minute single-channel video The Edge of Vision, or the Edge of the Earth (2013) features a procession of mourners interrupted by crudely artificial shots of fabricated landscapes. Unclearly expressing the relevance or irrelevance of the scene to the surrounding visual landscape, a voiceover from BBC documentaries accompanies these marchers who turn to be performing an exaggerated representation of mourning.

The deadpan aesthetics and black humor in Liu’s works emerge when the seemingly rational means of their productions collide with the subjective viewing experience. Both works not only encourage viewers to speculate on the preconceived understanding of the featured situations. They also invite audiences to reflect on how cultural boundaries can be both present and obliterated through the manipulation of images and sounds. Together, these suggestions interrogate whether globalism is the sum of all human cultures added together, or perhaps an entirely new entity representing the globalized culture.

Alter-Circuit: Shiyuan Liu, My Paper Knife is the second edition of a long-term collaboration between Asian Contemporary Art Consortium (ACAC-SF) and project-based gallery Et al. Focusing on diasporic practices, particularly those coming into conflict and contact with Asia, Alter-Circuit works closely with an individual artist over a period of time. Through durational endeavors, Alter-Circuit draws paths into and out of the artist’s practice while other collaborators, including curators, writers, publishers, scholars, and art communities, are invited to participate in the conversations. Alter-Circuit was inaugurated in 2013 with Berlin-based Virlani Hallberg.

Alter-Circuit: Shiyuan Liu, My Paper Knife continues with the artist’s talk My Paper Knife on Saturday, September 27 and a life online as a blog to expand the topics and widen both the audience and the circle of participants.

Alter-Circuit is conceived and curated by Xiaoyu Weng, Marie Martraire, and Et al..

ORGANIZED BY ACAC-SF AND ET AL. GALLERY AT ET. AL. GALLERY

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Shiyuan Liu
As Simple as Clay, 2013
Postcards, postcard rack

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Shiyuan Liu
As Simple as Clay, 2013 
Postcards, postcard rack

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Shiyuan Liu
The Edge of Vision, or the Edge of the Earth, 2013
Single channel video, 6 min.