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Abdominal Language 365 Days & Sophist’s Tongue

Liu Shi-Fen’s detailed knowledge of anatomy, and of the structures of skin and human tissue, is fully exploited in works like Abdominal Language 365 Days and Sophist’s Tongue. In this installation for TRACE, Liu uses her drawing skills to recreate the familiar apparatus of the operating theatre. In the process, however, she transforms the space into a museum in which nothing is quite what it seems. Many of her drawings retain gynaecological references, but they also suggest animal and imaginary forms. On a row of stainless steel tables in the installation space Liu has placed assemblages vaguely reminiscent of body parts: the remains, perhaps, of a pathology demonstration or autopsy. These sculptures are made from a variety of materials, including medical forceps, male human bones, razors, condoms, fish-hooks, pincers (to arrest bleeding) and fine thread for suturing. While they suggest corporeal forms – and some are distinctly sexual in their formation – the sculptures are sufficiently ambiguous to defy any attempt at identification. If anything, their monstrous nature and clinical arrangement deflects any erotic response. Francis Bacon spoke of the aesthetic dimension of wounds and diseased mouths, but here the sensuality of the materials is countered by the taxonomical ordering of the parts.

Date

24 September – 07 November 1999