Although on the surface of things his new work looks completely unrelated to anything he’s done before, look a bit closer and we may find that Shi Yong has picked up exactly where he left off in 2007 in a solo show at BizArt titled ‘Think Carefully, Where Have You Been Yesterday?’ In that work Shi Yong asks the eponymous question on camera to unsuspecting people who must assess the situation and decide whether to reveal or hide the truth. In a following work, Your Secret is My Weapon, 2008, Shi Yong then edited out all pertinent information from those interviews, turning truth into secrets. In his new show, Shi Yong wants to tell us something but doesn’t want us to know what it is. There is a line of text cutting through all the highly formalized forms in the exhibition space, but the artist has made it into a secret by striking it through with a thick metal line, rendering the words indecipherable. All that remains are the abstract and disjointed arms and legs of Chinese characters whose bodies have been obliterated. So, maybe Shi Yong doesn’t want to tell us something and only wants us to know that he has something to say – but not to us. But if not to us, the only witnesses to this artwork, then to whom?
As Shi Yong has told us in a text written in 2008 about Your Secret is My Weapon, secrets and the truth are an inseparable dichotomy. A secret is only a secret if it’s hiding the truth. From this we can assume that the artist has embedded a truth into his artwork, which has been obfuscated by a metal strip exactly 18cm high across all the various shapes and forms. It is the one constant structure of the exhibition, and its sole purpose is to hide the truth from us. [...] __ by Colin Chinnery