SHADOW PLAY

Over the past few decades, China has been undergoing urbanization at an astounding pace. In 2013, the national leadership raised the process to a new gear when it unveiled its plan of converting 70 percent of the population to a city-oriented lifestyle by about 2030. Such a significant change would undoubtedly transform the character of a country that has been largely agrarian throughout its millennia of history. One may wonder how, and to what extent, the landscape, culture, and daily being of the nation’s people may be altered. As artists, we are compelled to explore and reflect upon the various phases of this historic undertaking. Shedding light upon real-life incidents such as clashes during land evictions resulting from urban expansion, children abductions, suicides of migrant workers, and predicaments involving the cultural and environmental degradation, Shadow Play project visualizes the metamorphosis that results from the urbanization process.

Shadow Play is consisted of 4 chapters as followings:

Channel I. The Land: Death of the Village Head
Channel II. The Ruins: Lost Children
Channel III. The City: Into the Void
Channel IV. The Maze: No Exit

For more info about Shadow Play project, please visit http://lilyhonglei.com/shadowplay2

CHAPTER I. The Land: Death of the Village Chief

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Title: “Tree of Life.” Medium: Oil on Canvas. Dimension: 48 inch by 36 inch. Lily Honglei Art Studio © 2018 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Title: “Tree of Life (detail).” Medium: Oil on Canvas. Dimension: 48 inch by 36 inch.

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Title: “The Land.” Medium: Oil on Canvas. Dimension: 48 inch by 24 inch. Lily Honglei Art Studio © 2018 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Title: “The Land (Detail).” Medium: Oil on Canvas. Dimension: 48 inch by 24 inch.

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Title: “Death of the Village Chief.” Medium: Oil on Canvas. Dimension: 48 inch by 32 inch. Lily Honglei Art Studio © 2018. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Title: “Death of the Village Chief (Detail).” Medium: Oil on Canvas. Dimension: 48 inch by 32 inch.

CHAPTER II. The Ruins: The Missing Children 

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Title: “The Missing Children (Detail).” Medium: Oil on Canvas. Dimension: 48 inch by 32 inch. Lily Honglei Art Studio © 2018. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Title: “The Missing Children (Detail).” Medium: Oil on Canvas. Dimension: 48 inch by 32 inch.

CHAPTER III. The City: Into the Void

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Title: “The Tightrope.” Medium: Oil on Canvas. Dimension: 48 inch by 32 inch. Lily Honglei Art Studio © 2018. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Title: “The Tightrope (detail).” Medium: Oil on Canvas. Dimension: 48 inch by 32 inch.

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Title: “The Underground City.” Medium: Oil on Canvas. Dimension: 48 inch by 32 inch. Lily Honglei Art Studio © 2018. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Title: “The Underground City (detail).” Medium: Oil on Canvas. Dimension: 48 inch by 32 inch.

CHAPTER IV. The Maze: No Exit

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Title: “The Sunken Garden.” Medium: Oil on Canvas. Dimension: 48 inch by 32 inch. Lily Honglei Art Studio © 2018. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Title: “The Sunken Garden (detail).” Medium: Oil on Canvas. Dimension: 48 inch by 32 inch.

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Title: “The Sunken Garden II.” Medium: Oil on Canvas. Dimension: 48 inch by 24 inch. Lily Honglei Art Studio © 2018. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Title: “The Sunken Garden (detail).” Medium: Oil on Canvas. Dimension: 48 inch by 32 inch.

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Lily & Honglei Art Studio continues the creation of Shadow Play in 2018. Besides the funding support from Creative Capital since 2015, the artist collective is also thankful to the Artist Fellowship & Fiscal Sponsorship from New York Foundation on the Arts since 2017 and New York State Council on the Arts Grant this year. Turbulence.org, the very first funder of Shadow Play that provided initial support during the 1st Phase of the project, is currently collaborating with Extremeno and Ibero-American Museum of Contemporary Art, Spain on exhibiting their net-art collection including Shadow Play. 

Take a closer look work-in-progress at L&H Art Studio. Please direct any project-related questions to chinacyberart@yahoo.com

Shadow Play, Chapter I, design by Lily & Honglei©. Medium: Virtual Reality platform, Chinese shadow puppetry motifs.

Shadow Play, Chapter III, design by Lily & Honglei©. Medium: Virtual Reality platform, Chinese shadow puppetry motifs.

Shadow Play, Chapter IV, by Lily & Honglei©. Medium: Oil on Canvas

Shadow Play in production, inside L&H Art Studio

Lily & Honglei Art Studio’s new video art piece Crossroads (十字坡) will be premiered at the next Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin held on March 13-19, 2017 in Paris at Gaîté Lyrique.

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Still of “Crossroads,” painting and animation by Lily & Honglei Art Studio

Crossroads is a three-part animated series. Aesthetically, the series mixes the imagery of classical painting with socialist propaganda art, while its narrative fuses the idioms of Greek mythology with that of traditional Chinese ghost tales. The piece offers insight into many facets of China’s political and social condition, shedding light on the country’s decades-long struggle between westernization and insulation.

For further info, visit project page http://lilyhonglei.com/crossroads/index.html , or contact the art studio at chinacyberart@yahoo.com

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Screenshot of virtual environment Shadow Play, Chapter IV. The Maze: No Exit (work-in-progress).  © 2005-2016 LILY & HONGLEI ART STUDIO

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Screenshot of virtual environment Shadow Play, Chapter I, II & III (work-in-progress).          © 2005-2016 LILY & HONGLEI ART STUDIO

For more info about Shadow Play project, visit website http://lilyhonglei.com/shadowplay2

When we communicate with one another, we wish by nature to do so in a manner that is not subject to distortion.

Source: Do Emotions Distort Knowledge Pt. 1

Lily & Honglei Art Studio’s augmented reality artworks “Crystal Coffin” and “Dragon’s Pearl” on view at at both Longlake Festival & LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura, Switzerland, Opening June 24, 2016.

Lily & Honglei Art Studio continues presenting their new project “Shadow Play” by launching the next solo exhibition at Wilfrid Israel Museum of Asian Art & Studies.

Although remains in-progress, the artist collective has been invited to exhibit their new project at several art venues around the globe since 2015, including Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning in New York, SOMART in San Francisco, Gwangju Media Art Festival in South Korea, and Wilfrid Israel Museum in Israel. The exhibits include a dozen of large prints, and a slideshow compiled of seventy screenshots of “Shadow Play” virtual reality.

Special thanks to Dr. Anat Turbowicz, museum director,  and Shir Yamaguchi, museum curator, for making this exhibition possible. Find more from museum website http://www.wilfrid.org.il/en/?p=578

Lily & Honglei, shadow play, asian art, chinese art, shadow puppetry

Curatorial Statement
By Dr. Shoshan Brosh-Vaitz and Shir Meller-Yamaguchi. Editing by He Li

“Chinese shadow puppet theater probably began in the 6th century during the Tang dynasty as a means of disseminating religious and historical narratives, often with highlighting the value of justice and morality. Over the years, the design of the dyed leather shadow puppets became increasingly complex; delicate cutting and coloring as well as an impressive repertoire of characters and set decorations came to be developed. Due to the dramatic ideological, technological, and cultural change that took place in China during the 20th century, this art form has waned in popularity and almost become a thing of the past. The medium has been preserved primarily through the work of collectors such as Richard Hardiman, whose collection is presented in the exhibition.

“Folk art, however, is deeply rooted in cultural consciousness and has the power to revive itself when it becomes relevant to its time again. In Shadow Play by New York-based Chinese art collective Lily and Honglei, the shadow puppets reappear in a new guise within a seemingly naïve set. Originally created on a virtual reality platform, the work was adapted for screening as a slideshow presentation for the exhibition. Using the magical imagery of the traditional shadow puppets, the artists present critical commentary on the social ills shadowing over China.

Lily & Honglei, Asian Art, Chinese contemporary artist, Chinese shadow puppetry

Image by Lily & Honglei Art Studio © 2016

“Shadow Play reflects on the radical transformations experienced by China over the past thirty years through a tragic story of a rural family. The story embodies a deplorable trend that has been taking place all over China: villages and rural neighborhoods are being razed, and people who object to it are being murdered by interested parties. Children are being abducted while migrant workers are being relocated from small villages to filthy, overcrowded underground dwellings in large cities, all the while pollution abounds and public security breaks down. Basic values such as life, freedom, and dignity are being trampled in broad daylight. Lily and Honglei sketch this grim reality as a surrealistic narrative, in which mesmerizing beauty and horror are placed side by side. Green sunlight and an enchanted moonlight of yellowish-red color become obfuscated by the shadowy predicaments of reality.

“Scenes from the traditional shadow puppet theater are presented alongside scenes from its contemporary counterpart to offer a perspective on the age-old conflict between man’s base, demonic portions-which are manifest in greed, violence and exploitation–and the beautiful, exalted facets of human existence, which dwells in harmony, cooperation, altruism, and dedication.”

For more info about “Shadow Play,” visit project website http://lilyhonglei.com/shadowplay2/about.html