Dark Silence In Suburbia

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Beili Liu

Installations I

Stalemate //针锋相对 . Maple, graphite, string, mixed media, each element, 6 x 6 x 18".

Two 18-feet-long elements are suspended in space, opposing each otherby hundreds of cotton strings, which radiate from the thicker end of the elements.
The strings simultaneously support the physical weight of the elements and visually counter the forward force of the two opposing pieces.

The Mending Project. Iron scissors, fabric, thread, needle, mixed media, dimensions variable.

The installation consists of hundreds of Chinese scissors suspended from the ceiling, pointing downwards. The hovering, massive cloud of scissors alludes to distant fear, looming violence and worrisome uncertainty. The performer sits beneath the countless sharp blades of the scissors, and performs an on-going simple task of mending.

Photo by Blue

Golden Steps. Cotton thread, staples, 13.5 x 15.2 x 10".

The site-specific installation is conceived and created in response to the unusual architecture space at Form, Space/ Atelier Gallery. St etched from the opposite walls perpendicular to the stairs’ path, the parallel golden threads form folding planes illustrating echoing steps of the 18 aged wood stairs, while their intensity constantly shift as one travels downward or upward through the pathway between the thousands of threads and the wooden stairs.

Lure (Lure Series is part of the Red Thread Legend Series)  /    Series (2008-2012). Site-Responsive Installations, thread, sewing needle, dimensions variable (each coil 2 - 5 " in diameter.

The ancient Chinese legend of the red thread tells that when children are born, invisible red threads connect them to the ones whom they are fated to be with. Over the years of their lives they come closer and eventually find each other, overcoming the distance between, and cultural and social divides.
The installations make use of thousands of hand spiraled coils of red thread suspended from the ceiling. A disk may be connected to another, as a pair, and a pair of disks is made from a single thread. Every coil is pierced in the center by a sewing needle, which then threaded and enables the suspension of the disks. Subtle air currents set the red disks swaying and turning slowly as the loose strands of thread on the floor drift and become entangled.
Each composition of the Lure Installation Series carefully responds to the given space and its architectural specificities.

Toil. Silk organza, dimensions variable, each element apr. 3 to 8" long.

Each elements of the installation is made from a thin strip of silk organza, which is cut slowly from a pice of silk fabric using a burning incense.
The strips are carefully rolled in to cone shaped elements of various length.
Installed perpendicularly from the wall, the thin silk cones twist and toil, as if growing out of the wall surface.

Bound # 2. Thread, needle, red oak, (reclaimed shipping crates), 6 x 10 x 18".

Two weathered, human-sized oak columns (reclaimed wood from shipping containers) stand in opposition to each other, with thousands of gossamer red threads spanning the distance between them. Each thread is held in place by a needle at each end. Although the thousands of lines connect the two columns and visually pull them towards each other, they are solidly anchored in place and stand silently apart..
Each thread is threaded through two needles on the opposing side of the two columns.

Miasma. Wool, thread, acrylic medium, dimensions variable (each column, 4 - 9" tall).

Origin. Chine Spirit Money, rolled, charred, 7.5" in diameter.

In Chinese tradition, spirit money is burnt for ancestors and spirits in the afterworld as an offering. Origin is made from hundreds of rolls of spirit money; half of these rolls are with the rich and warm texture of the spirit money, shimmers of silver and gold, the other half charred black. The circle brings together the solid and the void, the present and the absent into one complete whole, and alludes to the balance and linkage between the current world and the afterworld.

Void. Silk organza, 49 layers, 30 x 43 x 15".

Each of the 49 layers of silk organza holds a delicate ring drawn with a burning incense. Each ring reduces in size until it recedes to a small circle. Through the void of the layering black silk, the spectator is drawn to a subtle hint of light at the end of the portal.

Recall. Paraffin wax, thread, hardware, 9 x 14 x 8.5".

 is the third project of The House Phase Installation Series These site-specific installations are based on the artist's parents’ hand-built adobe home in northern China. The installations take on a simple one-room-house structure, and are built using a wide range of materials, from traditional adobe bricks (see The Little House Stands On the Prairie), to delicate 8-foot-long wax drips.

Recall was made from approximately 600 hand-made Paraffin wax drips. These delicate wax drips measure 5 to 8 feet in length, and shatter easily to a light touch . Suspended in the center of the space, the installation echoes the angle of the rafters and the roof of the barn. Sun light falls through the gaps in the roof, and projects hundreds of light circles, which glide across the space and the house structure throughout the day. The house form speaks of a familiar domestic space, though the fragility of the material calls for uncertainty within the viewer about what a house stands for; shelter, protection and home.

The 1900’s cattle barn at the Djerassi Foundation that hosted the installation, Woodside, CA.
Photo by Frank Foreman.

Encirclement. Installation and performance, thistle, pin, dimensions variable.

Thistle is a fierce plant well armored with sharp prickles all over itself, from the stem to leaves to flower buds—much protection for its soft purple flowers. After blooming, the plant sends out feathery white thistledown into wind.
Encirclement is created with hundreds of thistle plants, stemming perpendicularly from the wall, outlining two silhouettes of a standing and a bending figure. The performer then positions herself inside the thistle field, disguised/ camouflaged with thistledown. The beautiful plants surround the body as if protecting her, while she is in fact being embraced by the countless thorns of the plants.
Photo by Tina Chang

Go # 1. Salt, water, shotgun shell, 6 x 6 x 4".

GO, “the Game of Encirclement”, or “Enclosing Game”, is an ancient Chinese game of territory control. The game is played with black and white stones on a 19 × 19 line grid.
Based on the game, the installation is created with 361 black shotgun shells laid out in a grid. Salt water fills each shell. Over time, crystal grows and creeps over the rim of each shotgun shell, and the color of the grid gradually shifts from the original to its opposing.

237 Minutes. Wax, wax paper, 48 x 80".

One piece of burning charcoal, positioned on a stack of wax paper, burnt for 237 minutes.

The gradual decline of heat and destructive power of the burning charcoal is documented on the wax paper—from large dramatic burnt holes circled with shards of black ash, to the faded yellow circle, and then to a blank sheet.

Aliment. Chinese Spirit Money, 60 x 28 x 10".

In Chinese tradition, spirit money is burnt for ancestors and spirits in the after world as an offering. Aliment is made from approximately 5000 sheets of Chinese spirit money, each folded in half, and tightly spiraled into a solid wheel. On one side, the rich and warm texture shimmers of silver and gold, on the other side, dense layers of paper edges are charred black. The partial burning, transforms the piece into a symbolic gateway, one side facing the present, the other side bridging to the afterworld.

Shadow House. Adobe bricks, (clay, sand, straw), 30 x 42 x 4.5", brick, 11 x 11 x 4.5".

Shadow House, second project ofHouse Phase Installation Series.
Shadow house is a site-specific installation that took place at Art Farm, before the construction ofThe Little House. Shadow House alludes to a space of comfort that one can not enter. Hundreds of hand-made adobe bricks are laid out, mimicing the scale and footprint of the Art Farm Victorian house, which had long been vacant and is still awaiting a new beginning.
Photo by Ed Dadey.

Spiral. Acrylic rods, silver wire, steel, speakers, sound tracks, light projection, 9 x 8 x 8".

Two sound tracks are playing on two speakers, one above the entrance of the installation, the other above the center. The two sound tracks echo, overlap, fade in or out, as the visitor approaches the piece and travels through the space.
Photo by David Smith.

Beili Liu is a multidisciplinary artist whose time and process based installations explore subjects of cultural specificity and overlaps, transient or persistent energy, and conflicting and confluent forces. Thread, paper, incense, wood, salt, water, these simple materials and compounds are the vehicles by which Beili Liu hand crafts microcosms of fragility and poignancy. By working on these everyday materials, Liu manipulates their intrinsic and bare qualities to extrapolate much more complex cultural narratives. Janet Koplos reviewed her works as being “materially simple but metaphorically rich” (Art in America Review, April 2009).

Born in Jilin, China, Liu now lives and works in Austin, Texas, USA. She is an Associate Professor of Art at the University of Texas at Austin.


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