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Li Li Ren

The World Forgetting, by the World Forgot

26 January - 16 March 2024

The World Forgetting, by the World Forgot is the first UK solo exhibition from multidisciplinary artist Li Li Ren, comprising an installation and sound piece encircled by new, small-scale sculptures and textiles. 

Bathing, compact whooshes, ripples of water when I move, watching the steam take shape, small bubbled clouds dispersing sweat and toxins and stress. Then there is earth cracking, crevices releasing lovers, demons, ageless, aged and barely born. In that vast expanse between our souls, bodies crawl endlessly to reach junctions west of here, where suns set. Here, there are ghosts, and we will remember them. I’ll cry ten times over before the day is done, huddled round, listening to you. You say my universe holds no bounds, intertwining with yours, tickling its way along your skin. We are parched, cotton wool tongue touching roof of mouth. It is so strange the way my heart feels heavy when thinking about the centuries of us, standing, laughing, dying, our spirits moving in weighted mountain boots across urban deserts. And every time David Attenborough motions, a new behaviour is born, wheeled out; a reminder of the world forgetting, by the world forgot, blanched and bleached and ashen, snapshot and amplified.


Why do we write, mythologise and tell lies? In this sandy field, campfire ablaze, gazes locked in understanding. In this garden I have cultivated, I will remember your brown eyes as they drift across, a scavenger hungry for its next meal, in a wasteland that cannot possibly exist. To wait out the night is to wait for birds to sing, for the dogs to take a bow. Tomorrow, we will continue to look for them, for new clues of butterflies that last longer than a day; shadows that may linger to tell us things that only they could. How is it that our purified, toned forms still decay like snowflakes? Putrid mud. A child asks, moving inside my stomach, growing. Moulding itself from the cartilage of stories told around flames and on screens; half-truths catching naive actualities, themselves made up by time. Here, there are ghosts. Cicadas in praise of short bursts of light, of life, after seventeen years buried under the soil, nymphs attached to tree trunks. We have so much time and none at all and all we really do is dance and die. The steam is gone now.

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Li Li Ren (b. 1986, Heilongjiang Province, China) lives and works in London, where she gained her BA in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, in 2010, and her MA in Sculpture from the Royal College of Art, London, in 2017. 


Across her practice, Ren negotiates the constantly morphing relationships between objects in space. In her built environments, which expand beyond the physical exhibition space into imagined realms situated between the biologically understood or plausible, and the highly-fantastical, she approximates certain shapes, subjects and environments, while also subverting them through unexpected material applications and abstractions — for example, hard glass cosplaying as soft jelly. In this world-building exercise, the artist often incorporates forms associated with the Anthropocene, the ocean, biology, altered states and maternity, ultimately desiring to queer and elude those connotations to flatten and destabilise humanism through an amplification of the similarities, as well as the strangeness, of human and non-human existence. 


Her recent works continue her interest in the formation and application of memory; how fragments are forgotten, material associations are formed, and histories are layered. These become vital tools for building narrative within her visual language.


Solo exhibitions include: The World Forgetting, by the World Forgot, Sherbet Green, London (2024); Sunset as Burning Bruise, Magician Space, Beijing (2022) and Frantumaglia, Qimu Space, Beijing (2021). Group exhibitions include: Frieze Sculpture, curated by Fatoş Üstek, London (2023); Home is where the haunt is, X Museum, Beijing (2023); Sculptural vibe cutting through (in) accessible sites, Gravity Art Museum, Beijing (2023); Into My Arms, Sherbet Green (2023); Memorias del subdesarrollo, Qimu Space, Beijing (2021); In/Out, Guardian Art Center, Beijing (2020); Silence in Violence, Spectrum Art Space, Shanghai (2018); and Camden Arts Centre, London (2017). She is represented by Sherbet Green in Europe and Magician Space in China.

Exterior view, Li Li Ren, The World Forgetting, by the World Forgot; courtesy the artist a
Installation view, Li Li Ren, The World Forgetting, by the World Forgot; courtesy the arti
Installation view, Li Li Ren, The World Forgetting, by the World Forgot; courtesy the arti
Li Li Ren, Memento_ The Day Is Gone (2024).jpg
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