The exhibition is centered around a video installation with the same title and includes new paintings and sculptures. The exhibition draws from the artist’s own experiences growing up on a factory compound in China while immersed in online culture. These personal experiences are distributed through a fictional narrative of an online love story between a teenage boy working in a yellow vest factory and a French mother, the relationship set against the backdrop of the Gilet Jaunes protests in France, reflecting on the highly mediated reality we live in right now.
Within the framework of this fictional romance, Li imagines how mass produced objects take on an erotic quality. This entanglement of multiple layers of desire, troubles the agency in all these various forms of yearning, and asks us to consider the structures that may modify or anticipate these inclinations – is production located in the assembly of the object, or in the production of the desire itself? She also demonstrates how entire lives are structured around these seemingly banal desires, where the entireties of cities are organized to accommodate, respond to, and manufacture these needs.
Paintings made from the yellow vests, sourced directly from the factories where Li is based, are a distillation of these global processes, in each work we can see how objects are produced, assembled, shipped, put back together again, repurposed, reinterpreted, resold. The artist considers the chain of supply and demand, and asks if that demand could not also be understood more fundamentally as desire, thus the chain oscillates between supply and desire.
Li’s newest works grapple not only with eroticism in digital spaces, but gendered and reproductive labour, as well as geopolitics. Her works explore the link between desire and commodity fetishism, as it is enmeshed in global systems of demand and the corresponding invisibility of supply. Through a meditation on the yellow vest as an object, Li considers and brings together two points on the timeline of the vest’s circulation; the assembly with the end use. These every day, quotidian objects that have become overloaded with affective and political meaning, are traced back to the conditions of their production. Li nestles these works within the discourse on geopolitical, transnational economies, and asks us to consider the conditions of our globalized system, from a unique, on the ground perspective and through the lens of desire.