Points of antagonism overlap and intersect in Shuang Li’s critical practice. Having trained in literature and media studies, Li’s work is grounded in her writing practice. Drawing from a variety of sources, including personal experience, anecdotes, and online message boards, Li composes the narratives that come to life in her video installations, and her solo presentation Exit Wound is no exception.
The exhibition’s departure point is a poem that Li composed during her time in residence at Callie’s, and which is projected as animated text onto the floor and wall of her vacated studio space. Li’s typographic choices embody youthful angst, challenging an artistic framework that typically prizes restraint and subtlety. The writing projected onto the wall could reference Li’s research into how graffiti in China has been used as a form of state-sponsored propaganda. As if in response to the state, the poem—also titled “Exit Wound”—is addressed like a personal letter of grievances without a specific recipient, adding a highly expressive strain to the otherwise ascetic installation.
The poem touches on themes that resurface in Li’s practice, such as population planning in China and the ubiquity of state-sanctioned abortion today. The vulnerability of the female reproductive body is a through line that can be traced also in Li’s sculptural works, which are often haunted by children’s paraphernalia, such as Halloween costumes. Li utilizes tropes of confessionalism, including melodrama, to emphasize the effects of pervasive structural violence. As suggested in one of the poem’s opening lines, “Exit Wound” is also a somber reflection on the circumstances that dictated the artist’s unanticipated stay in Europe following the outbreak of COVID-19.
The remaining works in the exhibition are testament to the artist’s intuitive process when it comes to sculpture and site-specific interventions. The windows are draped with heavy textiles featuring ornamental cutouts that suggest a weighty symbolism. Li is consistently evolving her practice, from performance to video and installation, in order to access the medium that speaks best to the issue at hand.