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Tale of Life

Li Shan


December 2, 2006 – January 10, 2007

Tale of Life, Installation view
Reading (Lily Series), 2006
Reading (Tomato Series), 2006

Chambers Fine Art is pleased to present Li Shan’s Tale of Life opening on December 5, 2007. Through digitally altered photographs, Li Shan addresses man’s changing relationship with other life forms. He uses the simple idea of cell synthesis to embrace equality and harmony among all creatures. In this particular exhibition, Li Shan playfully synthesizes humans and flowers.

These works are examples of what Li Shan calls “biological art,” which fuses the latest advancements in biology with art. In the age of biological clones, genetic synthesis and transgenic biology, Li Shan became fascinated with the idea that all living creatures have more similarities than differences. He saw this idea realized in with Matthew Barney’s half-human, half-animal performance at the 1993 Venice Biennial. At that time, Li Shan was at the height of his Political Pop fame with his colorful Mao paintings that defined Chinese art of the 90s. He eventually realized its limitations and moved forward with the new ideology of biological art.

Li Shan has biologically engineered his own creatures since 1998 with combinations of creature and non-creature, insect and mammal, human and insect, and human and flower/vegetation. For example, he manipulatively combines his own human skin with that of a butterfly or fish. The works in this series ask viewers to suspend disbelief and to accept the idea that all creatures evolved from the same cell and can therefore genetically mutate. The trans-mutated creations are skillful and organic.

As biological technologies advance, so too will artistic experimentations with biology. In a way, this relationship parallels emerging digital technology and new media art forms. Li Shan’s biological art vacillates between science fiction and potential developments in biology. He leaves us to fantasize the reality of such creations.

*A catalog designed by the artist will be available.



从1998年以来,李山一直从生物学的角度,用生物和非生物、昆虫和哺乳动物、人类和昆虫以及人类和花卉植物 等的结合来“制造”他自己的造物。例如,他将自己的皮肤和一只蝴蝶或鱼的外皮合成一体。在这个系列中的作品要求观众把怀疑搁置起来,接受一切生物都是从同样的细胞进化而来,因此能够发生遗传变异的观念。这些相互变异的生物是十分精巧而有机的。



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