de Sarthe Gallery is pleased to announce "Take Off", a multimedia solo exhibition of all new work by the Beijing- and New York-based contemporary artist Lin Jingjing. Adopting a methodology of paradox, the show discusses intrinsic uncertainty, repressed anxieties and the loss of individuality in contemporary society. Opening on 16 September the exhibition will run through 14 October.
The title "Take Off" refers to the structure of the exhibition itself, which transforms the gallery space into an international airport in the imagined nation of the People's Republic of Dreamland (PRD). Elaborating on a theory established by the French anthropologist Marc Augé (1935-), Lin Jingjing explores the current and future ramifications of airports and their facilities as "Non-Places," where identity as an independent individual becomes utterly insignificant. She submerges audiences into her absurdist and imagined future airport where, despite extravagances and leaps in technology, troubling reflections on our current world are laid bare. Through a carefully weaved series of connections, several of the artworks in the show function in relation to one another and collectively produce a powerfully critical narrative.
A quietly terrifying component of the show is the advertisement for a completely fabricated, but not unimaginably powerful mobile phone application. Presented as a light-box identical to ones found in airports across the world, "Superzoom" publicizes an app that is highly recommended by—and in fact produced by—the PRD government. It promises to assist an individual with quicker passage through customs and to make new friends as well as business connections. However, this is achieved only at the cost of forfeiting the entirety of your private information. Through "Superzoom" Lin Jingjing makes it clear that although the information age has allowed access to incredible new experiences, it also has exposed our personal information unreservedly, making it easy for private information to be stolen and violated, rendering the individual defenseless.
In response to "Superzoom" there is a more discretely presented advertisement for an app called "Perfect ID". Produced by a company called My Quality Life LLC, "Perfect ID" is a crack for the "Superzoom" app. It prevents monitoring and forges relevant information to compromise attempts at data gathering. It promises to provide technology that disrupts "Superzoom" at any time. However, as the app interferes with government attempts to gather information, My Quality Life LLC must not advertise their app explicitly. They are forced to publicize in more subtle ways and this includes sponsoring public service advertising.
"Critical Thinking Matters: It's Time to Reinvent, Rethink, Re-strategize, and Grow" is one of these public service advertisements. Sponsored by My Quality Life LLC, the advert appears to encourage positive social thinking, yet it is also a veiled criticism of the "Superzoom" app. Once viewers piece together that the promotional message is linked with "Perfect ID," they realize that the system at work is similar to the commercial interests and ideals of our current social reality, where despite clear rules and cultural understandings, there is a long standing series of unspoken rules that govern business and politics.
The largest artwork in the show is comprised of twelve colorful, transparent, and hollow boxes made of acrylic glass that are arranged in a line to form a row of rainbow-like colors. Titled "This Is the Beginning of My Desperation," the boxes have texts from twelve self-help and motivational books cut out of their fronts and backs. The text includes the names of the books, authors, and publishing houses, as well as attractive promotional messages. Referencing the astounding quantity of self-help publications produced, Lin Jingling prompts viewers to contemplate the extent to which we yearn for joy and happiness, and to also consider the deep helplessness many feel. The urgent nature of the texts on the colorful boxes and the emptiness of the boxes themselves form a paradox that Lin Jingling hopes exposes larger ideas regarding contemporary society and identity.