Vital Organs and Other Stories
Shoshana Wayne Gallery is pleased to present Shirley Tse's fourth exhibition with the gallery. In recent years, Tse has moved away from using solely plastic materials as an entry to the concept of multiplicities and competing ideologies. In "Vital Organs and Other Stories” Tse chooses instead to directly engage with subjects and materials which can better relate interconnectivity, concurrent narratives and a negotiated reality or truth.
The main gallery features works from both the "Vital Organs Series" and the "Quantum Shirley Series." For Tse, concept can be very plastic until it is manifested as sculpture; it then loses some of its plasticity because it enters into a negotiation with existing meanings and the physicality of given materials.
Works in this exhibition can serve as literal in reference or can reflect visual and linguistic play on words. “Vital Organs,” 2011, isa sculpture that bears the name of the series, and with electric grey tendrils hanging from the ceiling; it embodies the shape of a bound human heart. As the viewer easily recalls, the heart is in fact a “vital organ.” In “Vital Organs Series: Audio”, 2011, a cluster of tall aluminum tubes are fitted into a vintage commercial airline trash receptacle resembling a pipe organ; here the artist plays on linguistic pun. “Amber Room,”2012, the latest in the series, takes its name from the famed Russian treasure, “The Amber Room”. The room, built with over six tons of amber, was given as a gift by Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm I to his then ally, Tsar Peter the Great of the Russian Empire in 1716. During World War II, the Nazis looted the room and brought it to Konigsberg; then it disappeared mysteriously. Here lies another metaphor for Tse, amber being the "memory organ" in nature, preserving organisms from historical ecosystems. A specially designed room in a palace, such as the “Amber Room” is also architecturally the “vital organ” of a large structure.
In the "Quantum Shirley Series", the artist explores how an otherwise tragic personal story can be re-interpreted. Tse uses her interest in concurrent narrative, explained through Quantum Theory’s validation of “parallel worlds”, which basically states that a thing exists in many states but then collapses into one state when observed, to articulate the journey of her life in parallel to certain historic facts. For example, Tse uses this theory in describing her personal history, as a woman born in Hong Kong, and an artist who frequently employs plastics in her work; which synchronously corresponds with a specific trade movement: described in the histories of rubber and vanilla as colonial products, along side the geographical displacement of Chinese in the last century. When a personal story is seen through other scientific, economic or historical lenses, a radical change or even a reversal of values could take place.
Tse collaborates with sculptor and filmmaker Dana Duff in the east gallery to create an environment bridging the distance between earth and water below with sky above. For this space, Tse installs several floor to ceiling sculptures made of lightweight, yellowish, mesh materials. The sculptures resembling funnels are reminiscent of stalactites and stalagmites. In the dimmed room, these sculptures are illuminated by Duff’s video projections of shifting lights images designed for the sculptures, including scenes of underwater turbulence.
Shirley Tse has previously exhibited at The House of World Cultures, Berlin, Germany; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Minsk, Belarus; Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH; Redcat Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Bienal Ceara America, Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil; P.S. 1, Long Island City, New York; The New Museum, New York; The Biennale of Sydney, Sydney, Australia; Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC; Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.