There is a haunting despair that pervades through the images of photographer Chen Xiaoyun.
Sometimes it comes through deliberately, as in You cannot leave [an already foreboding title] where a small nude man, crouching on a dirty floor where snakes slither around the floor (and through his toes), is depicted in a uncomfortably close shot that fills the frame and provides excruciating detail. Other times, Xiaoyun channels this despair through an unlikely medium, humor. In his series The Flesh Assimilates the World, stark, direct portraits of unassuming men are seen. The exquisite factor here is that in each portrait, there is a certain quotidian item taped in a constricting manner upon the face of the men. The images present a stark awkwardness and initial ridiculousness. An off center man whose swollen eyelids suggest a lack of sleep bears a taped piece of brick to his face. Another man stares open-mouthed past the viewer, with an old, worn blue sandal taped onto his face. Another has a wad of money and another has pliers taped to their faces. The odd objects are in the faces begin to connect in the form of individual, object, and labor. The bland, hopeless stories of these anonymous men come to light without much more detail. Their labor is their life.
*1971 in Huangshi / Hubei, in Beijing since 2010. Education: 1992 China Academy of Art (CAA), Hangzhou, Degree in Traditional Chinese Painting Awards, 2012 New Photography of the Year by Lianzhou Foto 2012. Solo exhibitions: 2013 A4 Contemporary Arts Center, Chengdu, ShanghART, Beijing 2012 ShanghART, Beijing 2009 ShanghART, Shanghai 2008 MC, Los Angeles. Group exhibitions: 2013 Zhong Gallery, Berlin City Gallery Wellington, 2012 ShanghART, Shanghai Contemporary Arts, Museum Houston, Museum für Angewandte Kunst (MAK), Cologne Times Museum, Guangzhou, 2011 Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai
Text: Andrew Nunes