de Sarthe is pleased to present the Hong Kong-based artist Wing Po So’s first solo exhibition with the gallery, From the Body to the Body Through the Body concluding de Sarthe’s third annual artist residency (deSAR). Featuring a new series of sculptures and delicate plaster carvings, as well as an immersive, large-scale installation the exhibition continues the artist’s ongoing exploration of Chinese medicinal materials. Through a studied use of corn—one of the most common of Chinese medicinal ingredients—a fictitious archeological reality is produced within the exhibition, offering new perspectives on time, space, truth and logic. The exhibition opens on Saturday, 7 September.
Upon walking into the gallery, visitors are greeted by petrified habitats and fossilized bones of a prehistoric crustacean-like creature. These are all in fact made from clay and corncob. Embedded within the clay itself, the corncob disintegrates during the firing process and leaves the scaly, undulating impression of an ancient, unknown animal or bug. Collectively, these misleading clay sculptures pen the narrative of a highly evolved species that once roamed our planet. The deceptive modern day archeology of these artworks leave us to contemplate alternate realities, the scale of time, and the innate fallacy of our perceptive abilities.
Further developing the fictitious narrative of a once animated corn creature, the immersive installation “From the Body to the Body Through the Body” is an eleven-meter-long cocoon made chiefly of dried corn silk. Laboriously untangled and restructured by hand over the duration of two months, the corn silk that comprises the skin of the cocoon was transformed from a matted, weed-like substance to a thin and airy woven mesh. The resultant moving and breathing cocoon it forms seems to biologically latch itself onto the walls, floor, and ceiling of the gallery space. Walking into the cocoon, one is immediately struck by the smell of the sweet and musky cornsilk as well as the sudden change in light. The experience inverts our relationship to corn silk, which our gaze normally looks down onto, thereby radically shifting scale. Inside the cocoon, individuals look upwards at the cornsilk surrounding them in totality, rendering their bodies bug-sized in comparison. Walking within this warped context, an interrogation between materials and our relationship to them unfolds, calling into question what we deem to be living and non-living, fictitious and real.
The final series in the exhibition, “Changing States” is a body of new artworks delicately carved out from a layer of plaster on board. A depiction of the material process of untangling and restructuring corn silk, the soft and quite painting-like works meditate on revitalization and how we perceive living and non-living. An introversion of the concepts addressed within the exhibition, the works hang immediately across from the imposing cocoon installation and conclude the exhibition.