Review: Illegitimate Production

A curiously warm array of flotsam from a near-human apocalypse

Illegitimate Production is the first solo show at Urs Meile for relative newcomer Yang Mushi. The show assembles nine jet-black sculptures in two gallery rooms, and one quickly registers the clever use of the white cube in its installation: Yang’s works cut harsh, jagged peaks through the viewer’s line of sight at every turn.

The exhibition title uses ‘production’ in the sense of manufacturing. Yang utilises both the methodology and material of factory production in his sculptures, whose media read like a lightindustrial shopping list. His process includes ‘cutting, sharpening, and grinding’, ‘subtracting’ and ‘eroding’. In several pieces, Yang’s juxtaposition of jagged with spongelike forms evokes deep space or deep sea, rather than any distantly human industrial landscape.

The human core of the show lurks in the shadows of its centrepiece, ‘Grinding’, an assemblage of hundreds of individual sculptures ground into shape over three years. From different vantage points, the sculptures, which lay on top of a polished black aluminum sheet, resemble early human lithic tools, burnt and abandoned forests, the archaeological remnant of some near-human apocalypse.

While we didn’t quite grasp the connection, posited in the wall text, between Yang’s work and ‘the extreme urban development of China in the context of globalization’, this show does, nevertheless, sing a poignant cautionary tale, and burns saw-toothed scales onto your retinas that will take a day or two to fall.

  • 4 out of 5 stars