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.
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.
“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