"Them That Glide Past Our Windows"
An eerie feeling passes over your shoulder. Do you dare to turn around to see who or what caused your shoulders to quiver and your heart to quicken? In the growing absence of religious ideals would you look to a medium to contact your past for future advice? Cast a backwards glance toward the spirits that roamed Shanghai during their industrialization and modernization and invoke them for guidance now. Enter the spirit realm and realization of old Shanghai contrasted with the cutting edge of modernity in the 21st century. The island6 art collective, Liu Dao 六岛 has experimented with the uncanny similarity of the past industrial boom of old town Shanghai with the lustrous modern growth the city experiences today.
To create its latest show, Liu Dao draws its inspiration from present and the past. In 2009, the demolition of the Qiu mansions 邱别墅 on Weihai Lu 威海路 – home to the eccentric millionaire Qiu 邱 brothers – brought about a flurry of ghost-spotting allegations from local residents who had ignored the hulking wreck for decades. The island6 artists wonder how far our impressions of the past color our current perspectives. In 18th-century China, the painter Luo Ping 罗聘 unveiled a scroll on which he had painted demons and spirits he claimed to have personally seen. In the same vein, Liu Dao presents the seen and the unseen through ethereal images composed from forgotten Chinese photographic negatives.
As you roam the newest installations at island6 gallery you will experience the contrast of past traditions and new concepts. An antique dressing table adorned in rich black walnut conjures a modern ghost engaged in preparation for a busy day ahead. Delicate paper-cutting is fused with dynamic LED animation. What one is left pondering is the question of what remains, body or spirit? The lively fan dancers of the past captured like sprites within each teakwood frame boldly inform you that both survive the ravages with time through the fusion of memory and art.
Questioning the boundaries of human nature and age-old tradition, Liu Dao uses mixed media from the ancient to the cutting edge, calling forth the ghosts of Old Town through multimedia installations. Past images of family life, school days, and childhood evoke the uncanny and provoke questions about our own mortality. Lou Ping claimed he could see ghosts with unusual eye color. Liu Dao blends remembrance with experience, beckoning you to search within your soul today for the ghosts of yesterday.