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Program : Installations


Brine Lake (A New Body)


Brine Lake (A New Body), 2020

2-channel video and sound installation, 43 min 44 sec

Artist : Shen Xin

Venue : Jim Thompson Art Center

How do we decipher and infer meaning when translating across malleable forms and languages in a complex world? Here, as a dual-screen presentation, Brine Lake (A New Body) meditates on the degree slippery narratives, errant individual and collective subjectivities destabilize definitions of statelessness, belonging, and identity across national borders. Filmed on a blank set, the work is staged in a fictional iodine recycling plant, while the camera tracks a series of business conversations between human protagonists and phantom factory representatives in Japanese, Korean, and Russian. Gradually, the disquieting exchanges deviate from its original course and converges into multilingual cacophony of imaginary and historical narratives, to address resource extraction, ecology, cultural assimilation, and alienation connected to experiences of colonialism and war in East Asia. 

These fragmentary utterances expose the traumatic memories of Koreans forcefully displaced, up to this day, from their homeland to Japan and Russia. Iodine, and its extraction and processing, are metaphors for statelessness, technology, and control mechanisms. Within the video installation, the restlessness and nonappearance of both chemical element and ghostly subjects are devices Shen uses to activate spaces of unsettled relations where not only the protagonists but also the audiences become entangled. This vulnerability is embodied within one of the remarks of the protagonists, “… something like iodine, uprooted from its assumed belonging, even in the form of a finished product, even after having been consumed, it never stops becoming.” 

Supported by Rijksakademie Amsterdam, DeAppel Amsterdam, M+ Museum Hong Kong and Gwangju Biennale, South Korea