Performance artist Li Binyuan’s first solo exhibition “Breaking Point” is being held at Rén Space in Shanghai through October 26.

Li is known for his unorthodox and highly personal performances, often using his own body as a primary tool to measure the social space he occupies.

In this show he brings a collection of recent works of video, performance, photographs and sculptures to talk about the relationship between social upheaval and the shaping of individual personality.

His new installation work “Rumor,” a white-painted room with numerous sharp arrows, each piercing a pink rubber tongue, represents the artist’s reflection on the social image of the current network environment.

The performance and sculptural work “Natural History” made of cast bronze captures the result of the interaction between internal and external forces.

The work “Room” creates a space-time with a burning flame chain. It explores the discovery and prompting of a hidden power in daily space with strong romantic tendencies.

Li’s artistic practices touch upon different fields of daily Chinese society through actions, videos and performances to explore physical, material, conceptual and social values. These are always conducted in public places, urban and rural spaces, natural environments or remote post-industrial areas, in an attempt to reveal the potential relations between him and the things around.

As a performance artist with a sculptural sensibility, Li enlists his body — and on occasion, fireworks, knives and other objects as prosthetic extensions — as an apparatus for knowing space through various forms of transient intervention.

In the single-channel video of his performance “Three Forks,” Li sat in a swivel chair at a road junction, throwing firecrackers. Some cars and pedestrians stopped, while others just passed as if nothing had happened.

The motivation of his artistic practice is to understand his space and material environment through physical interaction, so as to question and surpass the norms and ideologies imposed on the environment.

“My situation is the ladder for me to climb, and my inner action is my first scene,” Li said.

“Experience is a ruler that I can measure things indefinitely, trying to reach a direction I want to reach. When action is magnified, most of the time the body is only a prop that is trained by will; a prop that can also be my materialized body.”

Exhibition info

Date: Through October 26 (closed on Mondays, 10am-6pm)

Venue: Rén Space

Address: No. 10, 133 Shangwen Rd