Yu Bogong

Yu Bogong | Timeout

Yu Bogong

By Stacey Duff

Yu Bogong’s solo exhibit is striking for its clash of machine and insects. The soullessness of the work echoes the soullessness of a country where all the cities are starting to look the same – where economic security has advanced apace,leaving spiritual concerns lying in the dust.

The title of the exhibition, Crossing The Riverbed, implies a salvation of sorts, just as its two main works suggest new searches for meaning and transformation. The main room is occupied by an oddly constructed, self-powered machine that rests on four bicycle wheels. Although they imply mobility, these wheels are slanted inward, rendering movement virtually impossible. A pump circulates red fluid (suggestive of human blood) that seems to generate power for a three-piece neon installation.

The neon lights themselves are designed to evoke quasi-religious symbolism and mathematical formulae. One of the light groups reads:’GOD Positive Yang, Godless Negative Yin’. This Taoist dialectic suggests that doubt and meaninglessness are necessary part of the game – it’s okay to be scared or numb, because these realities, like shadows and hunger, form an indispensable half of the human heart, the deserted half.

In a side room, a cicada on the wall pump white smoke into the air. The insect’s body is crusty and open as if the real animal has already moved on – providing additional karmic evidence that living states are predicated by dead ones. Peering into a hole in the room’s lower corner comes another unsetting prospect. Viewers who crane their neck into the hole will see more cicadas scuttling around in the darkness. That tension, slight but unnerving, removes you from the comfort zone you typically experience in the average Beijing gallery. This work is not average; it is poignantly abnormal.