Exhibition “J’étais là – Acte II”, by Xiaojun Song. On view at the Galerie L’Alcôve from 09 November to 26 November 2023.
In November 2022, the Françoise Besson gallery (Lyon 1e) has organised a solo exhibition by Chinese artist Xiaojun SONG – J’étais là – to coincide with the 16th Lyon Biennial of Contemporary Art. The exhibition is based on the Biennial’s theme of fragility. It includes an interactive installation entitled “The Fourth Wall”, the invisible “Meditations” series, as well as a brand new meditative series in white and her new research into three-dimensional pieces from the Toile series. In 2023, she returns with the continuation of this series, on view at Galerie-Atelier L’Alcôve from 9 to 26 November.
I use white in my work to signify the absence and covering that marked my fifteen years of life in France. To the fragility of being alone and uprooted was added a strong feeling of living in a void, in time and space. This introspection led me to see life as one big rehearsal. I stayed living in my past, time passed, and all the repetitions of my daily gestures left me with nothing. So I started tracing these moments, writing them down one by one on paper, as proof of having lived. They intermingle and agglomerate uncontrollably in my paintings, and I deliberately forget my very academic training in drawing in China to make room for an experience. With these strokes, I’m looking for the relationship between absence and existence, emptiness and fullness.
A line is like a thread, it has two heads. It can link two elements. We are born with a thread, the first in our lives, linking us to our mother. Over time, we weave our identity, made up of other links, a web of invisible threads that connect us to other people. All this builds us up. To be uprooted is to cut these threads. So I keep tracing them, and they become the features, the moments, the marks of my existence. They all say: I was there.
A year later, Xiaojun wanted to return to the Alcove gallery to present the second act of this exhibition, because this place played an essential role for her from 2018 to 2022. It is the place where she reconnected with her dreams, the place where the statement “I was there” takes on its full meaning.