A gaze. Descending into something. Natural light. Curtain falls. Darkness, darkness smashing the world to smithereens, forming a celestial firmament, every star lighting up with its gaze, all from an unfathomable distance. In the dusky hues of roused night, the pensive features of a pig, a chicken, a duck … Through their eyes, their looks, we find, not ourselves, but rather strangeness, vacancy. People’s gestural quirks too are really nothing more than twisting flesh, this and a pair of eyes one cannot meet. And who’s looking? Who are they looking at? In this brazen world, a suite of deadpan gazes, all of it parcelled in darkness.
It’s peculiar, this lustrous, glistening nightmare. Like a tombstone, or rather fabric, flowing, floating along with the waves. Or perhaps it resembles the eggs of sea turtles, hatching on beaches in summertime, the identical bodies emerging from their wooden boxes, devoid of essential, distinguishing characteristics. Like capsule upon capsule of some medicinal preparation, animals of every shape and size appear volatile, evocative, and are yet unable to express this for themselves. They are captivating, for they present us with no vestiges of fearful death. The background to each one of Yi Lian’s films is deemed temporal, bringing them to resemble random fragments from an unending, universal flow. “My everyday life and work, passed spent, become somehow pervasive, archaic, anecdotal. From this I know I am endowed with an excess, that I might pass a second, more expansive and timeless existence.” (RM Rilke). In the films,before and after, cause and effect, movement, reaction, all such flows, all sequence of events is deemed unclear, elusive. The artist abstracts phenomena from their customary interrelations in a manner somewhat reminiscent of surrealist painting, flows and vapours working to blur the limits of tropes from within the symbolic order, flickering, variegating and fading. Introducing each film, the writer’s final surmise is in each instance one of “uncertain trajectories”, a refusal to be merely explicit, crystalline.more