From Exclusion to Framing

Shanglie Zhou, whose work is the most strongly personal in the show, moved to Antwerp from a China which had passed through the afflictions of the Cultural Revolution and Tienanmen Square. In her installation of sculptures in wax, Oblivion, she appears philosophically to process thoughts around the masquerade of keeping power, losing face, which I would connect to her formative experience. Her latest installation deals with the borderer’s notion of transgressing. It is constructed as a floating wall and a passage made out of letters, or rather, of envelopes. We cannot know what is in them. But fragments of their potential messages are externalised as drawings on the envelopes, sketches that somethings together seem to form continuous coherent representations but which escape, at the last moment, our attempts at deciphering. A recurring postage stamp reads: “Ubi cumque umquam”, wherever and whenever. It is also the title of the installation. And she com- ments upon it: “When you realise that you are a stranger at home, then you are always and everywhere a stranger.” This is to me not just nomadism. It is to have taken up one’s abode in homelessness.

Everlyn Nicodemus

THIRD TEXT no.35 summer 1996 London