From video and installation to performance, LiuKe & HuangHuang's creations blend multiple media, exploring more possibilities of emotional relationships through observation and experience of daily life, and they attempt to break the limit of expression through the way of art. In this exhibition, the two artists combine their series of works with the exhibition space to build a space of their own, interacting with time and space, leading the viewer into a dramatic, dream-like journey.
The artistic practice of LiuKe & HuangHuang is always closely related to 'life' - life is fluid and alive, passionate and sincere, sacred and unknown; it is also a way of connection and a state of being between two people - a real, free, episodic, undefined and uncertain relationship. The two met over a decade ago through their shared love of art, and subsequently lived together in Yunnan, in a simple, unpretentious life in a utopian courtyard with people of all shapes and sizes from all over the world.
"Those who wrote poetry, those who made music, those who painted, those who made films… We used to sing and dance, play some improvised music and do performance shows at night under the moon or around a campfire." Those years of aimless, ordinary days seemed to be just for killing time but shaped the pair's perception of an ideal life and their persistence in experiencing, feeling and creating in a slow life.
In one of Huang Huang’s diaries at the time, she wrote that her relationship with Liu Ke was like a mirror to each other: through the mirror, they could see their true selves, give each other understanding, courage and energy, and explore the unknown of life together.
The idea for the series "Mirror" came from the fifteen years LiuKe & HuangHuang closeness, and the familiarity of the experience accumulated over time had slowly stopped the flow of energy between them, while the passing of the hot emotions of their initial acquaintance as "mirrors of each other" gradually caused emotional unease. The two-year practice became an attempt and a contract to rebuild their relationship: improvising, conceiving, performing, recording - they shifted their identities as creators, interacting with each other day after day using their cameras and bodies, and seeing their real selves in the mirror day after day.
It took LiuKe & HuangHuang two years to complete the series "Mirror" together, starting on January 1, 2017 and ending on December 31, 2018. Each day, they took a photo of each other, then combined them together and sealed them with the date of the day. The work consists of 730 sets of 1460 fragmented photographs, which are presented in a simple and intuitive way as a frank visual dialogue between the two men, in which the flow and interplay of emotions are reopened as they view and are viewed, and fleeting moments are immortalised in their lives.
The initial outbreak of the epidemic in 2020 led to the suspension of some of LiuKe & HuangHuang's work plans, but it also gave the two artists an opportunity to re-examine the present and return to life itself. Returning home from their journey to Tibet, the two artists were able to re-experience their familiar surroundings in their simple daily lives of writing, painting, cooking and growing flowers, and gradually found a certain habitualness in their slow pace.
The re-perception of life and the metaphors from dreams have inspired the duo to re-engage with a new perspective and a physical approach to a free, diverse and unrestricted creativity. The photographic installation "For Time" was born out of a long process of reflection and sorting out based on their work. The installation uses old objects and materials accumulated over the years - dried plants, leftover burning incense roots, feathers on the earth, stones by the river… These tiny objects are juxtaposed with the fragmented photographs of "Mirror" in an old wooden box of drawers, like a containers of time, interweaving all the times, emotions, and experiences of life into a place to find time, and time for place, in the midst of ordinary life.
"In the ordinary life of the week, I quietly begins to view “Mirror” again, immersing myself in a little bit of time, once again giving the process over to it… The reorganisation of these fragmented moments, the relationship between objects and us, the slow processing of every detail into every second of the present moment. The interplay of the past and the present, what does it mean and where will it lead. It seems to be the path that draws us to explore it forever. Day and night alternate, endlessly, as if waiting together, for this never-ending time."
— From HuangHuang’s Diary