Curated by Ian Alden Russell
A leading voice in an emerging generation of socially engaged contemporary artists in China, Shanghai-based Jin Shan is an agent provocateur. Preferring wit and satire to aggression and conflict, Jin Shan uses humor and play to draw audiences into a confrontation with the social, cultural and political problems of the modern world. In this special project for the Bell Gallery, Jin Shan responds to power dynamics in contemporary China, invoking the social meme "My dad is Li Gang!" - a short-hand satirical critique of the corrupt financial and political elite of China who believe they can avoid responsibility for harm they have inflicted on others.
With My dad is Li Gang!, Jin Shan transforms the Bell Gallery into a big, "yellow," political disco party. At the center, bathed in yellow light, is a mirror-clad replica of China's Tiangong 1 space station. Turning slowly, seemingly powered by a cast replica of a three-wheeled cycle, the space station's mirrors throw yellow light around the room onto four false walls covered with plaster. The plaster has been beaten and marked using silicone replicas of the hands of migrant laborers who make their livelihood using three-wheeled cycles in Shanghai. Sustaining his critique of power, desire, and ambition, the visitor is able to "walk behind the scenes" of the false walls, revealing the "party" to be a construction and suggesting that the power dynamics of China must be opened to negotiation.
My dad is Li Gang! is a declaration of Jin Shan's cultural position and social obligation to engage political issues and make them visible through his art. His most ambitious project to date, this will be Jin Shan's second solo exhibition in the United States and occurs in conjunction with his first New York gallery solo show at Masters & Pelavin.
Jin Shan 靳山