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Unapproachable Light: Bai Ye & Cheng Qianning
by Telescope Beijing
Location: Telescope Beijing
Artist(s): BAI Ye, CHEN Qianning
Date: 15 Jun - 11 Aug 2013

Telescope presents two artists from Xi’An, Bai Ye and Cheng Qianning, in their first solo exhibitions in Beijing.

“…who dwells in unapproachable light , whom no one has ever seen or can see” i s from a verse inthe Bible referring to a place or a state of being that is beyond the abilities and senses of humankind to enter or perceive, but it exists and bekons nonetheless.

Light is essential in the work of Bai Ye and Cheng Qianning. One works with light from within toreveal what is hidden in darkness hoping to find a way out into the day, the other works with lightfrom without surveying from unseen vantage points the lives and remnants of cities and peoplebelow. One is intimate, the other is objective, but both reveal vulnerable states of man.

Bai Ye’s photos are made with his mobile phone and a flashlight in abandoned buildings often inhabited by anonymous figures. They are alien and haunting landscapes imbued with the hopeof transcendence and flight but still mired in a dark oppressive reality. The central focal point inhis photos is a burning white pupil of light from which all else is illuminated, unlike that of a human eye or dark star that sees by consuming light. Bai Ye’s imagery is enigmatic butoccasionally a clue is left behind to give you a foothold of meaning; a cigarette butt, a stone, astrand of barbed wire, moon, clouds... but this trail of crumbs is short lived. What seem to bemoonlit nighttime skies are really just opaque concrete walls. What appears to be a way out of one’s imprisonment is just an illusion. But in this place even illusions are welcomed and provide a ray of hope for the freedom of a brighter tomorrow.

Also included in Unapproachable Light are Bai Ye’s video observations of the strange world around him in short abstracted daily actions, places, and sounds; emotional, provocative, andhaunting microscopic animations from life.

Lonely Satellite by Chen Qianning, is a beautiful but technologically imposing object suspended above a pool of black glass surrounded by what looks like volcanic stones. The wing portions of the satelliteresemble solar panels but play video reconnaissance of ancient ruins, as seen from far above.These forlorn landscapes depict a world where all of the anxieties of humanity have faded awayinto dust and silence. We wonder if this information has taken only minutes or thousands of years to collect, transport to a distant region of space, then be returned for analysis. Perhaps bythe time of arrival no one is left to receive it or life and technology have changed so drastically that it is difficult to decipher its meaning. Looking from the outside into our world below Cheng’s satellite endlessly receives and transmits visual information from life or remnants of past life on earth below. Today’s commercial surveillance material is usually mundane and inconsequential, but for the Lonely Satellite floating in the dark recesses of space, it offers the endless possibilityof finding clues to the mysteries of life and death and what it means to be human.
- James Elaine

Courtesy of Telescope Beijing

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