Sun Lanhe Solo Exhibition ——Stadium

26 March - 24 April 2022 Xiamen


Text/Xiao Ruiyun


The title of this exhibition, Stadium, alludes not just to the physical location where sporting events take place, but also to the field associated with sport.1 Sun Lanhe analyzes how sport is a symbolic transfer of belief, extending the concept of space to historical, cultural, and social experiences.
The narrative of a series of works begins with Sun's references to mythological motifs and stories: the installation, Idol, is inspired by the strigil provided to athletes by Eros, the goddess of love, and the javelin passed from athlete to athlete in the myth, which represents the pursuit of the ideal beauty of athletics and the desire to win; Sporting Monument is another approach of establishing the image of Monument, using Greek columns, and modern objects such as climbing holds and sports water bags to decorate them, in order to paradoxically reconcile the classical and modern in one statue with a sense of ritual. Female Champion, a large-scale image made of sports fabric, and the film, Stadium, are based on the ancient Greek goddess Artemis, whose image reflects the fight between wildness and civilization, insinuating the present image of sport and its ritual.


Sun Lanhe explores the significance of sports in contemporary society through image transformation and collage. The works are created with ready-mades, rearranging disorderly objects to transform the meanings of the materials and elements. Female Champion, for example, transforms contemporary female commercial pictures into the image of sports heroines, while Play uses a collage of images to build Mount Olympus, which also serves as a virtual representation of the spiritual image of the sublime sports; Stadium replicates an ancient chase ritual in the modern surroundings through the costume shape and camera movement with a sense of technology; in Play, the climbing holds take the form of a modern totem, Sporting Monument keeps reappearing, indicating the rules set by human beings with reason, and symbolizing the nature of sports.


Carl Diem argues that all physical exercises begin as sacrifices. 2 Sun Lanhe looks back at how the world of sports in the past used complex means such as rituals and symbols to reinforce its holiness. The totems, idols and worship of ancient Greek rituals are being translated to the production and consumption of sports in the present through the modern techniques portrayed in Sun Lanhe's work. Sports have shifted from religious to secular ideas as modern people follow the thrill and excitement of athletic competition, and slogans like "higher, faster, stronger" have become part of the modern sports mythology.


1. In works like Rules of Art, Bourdieu argues that society is divided into many separate sectors, each of which forms relatively independent social spaces that do not exist physically but are structured domains of collective imagination.

2. Carl Diem, a German sports historian, begins his World History of Sport and Physical Education by claiming that all physical exercises begin as sacrifices and that the most famous ancient Greek Olympic Games were a fusion of athletics and religious festivity.