Fleetingly through the door——On the work of Lee
Source:Artintern Author:Achille Bonito Oliva Date: 2014-09-15 Size:
Lee has only one hand, concentrated and obsessed with skilfulness, with the dazzling, night-time use of the left hand. The artist’s hand is proverbially sinister, fortified by a peal of laughter that isolates and magnifies the gesture...

Lacan sees art as being embodied within the two-fold sign of critical paranoia, both elements working on repetition, multiplication and dissociation. “The object’s iterative identification” becomes the movement of paradoxical knowledge, opening a chink through which, however, no light appears. Lee lives alone near a door, in a bare house whose only furniture consists of a naturally-oiled household hinge, which seems to promise manifold acknowledgements, revelations and insights. Yet no-one arrives through this opening.

¬So Lee himself knocks at the door, creating a brooding expectancy that borders on silence. He never deserts his waiting place, moves no muscle, but protects himself by assuming a long-necked pose, a telescopic movement which enables him to rise upwards, to discern and simultaneously distort things. It is said, and it is probably so, that Lee is a man with no head on his shoulders, so no neck either, everyone senses this: such obviousness is even taught to children in school, and denounced as being a sign of reckless unsociability. As Thomas Mann said, the artist is not a good reformer, for he has a peculiar yearning for vulgarity and life which, in effect, are the same thing.

The artist does not stockpile or accumulate supplies, nor does he wait for anyone to bring him gifts suitable to trade, for he has neither eyes to hear nor ears to see. So he himself knocks, thus ushering in an iterative phantom from beyond the door, a ghost that comes in, goes out. Like a tortoise, the artist takes on the burden of the door, bearing it on his shoulders and, thus armoured, circles his neck around and about, ready to draw back as soon as he has caught a glimpse.

A glimpse which inevitably ends where it began. Lee, with his long neck, strutting like a peacock, sees himself discovering repetition, his body waiting like an effigy behind the door. In short, Lee never expects visitors, so finds solace in opening and closing his tail behind and beyond the door, which thus serves as a mirror. And it is there, on that concave and mirror-like shell, that the past buries its future, a glimpse generates an oversight, and hallucination is warped by the multiple omnipresent.

Putting one’s neck outside the door means exposure to the perturbing, as though Lacan were to open the door and find Freud waiting for him! Lee however loads his neck onto his shoulders and continues his journey, listening out for other visions, ready for further revelations, careful about flinging open the door onto the absence of the other.

The creaking door thus competes with the muffled sound of laughter, the artist’s laughter, the laughter of Zarathustra, who knows that opening means merely moving air, inevitably placing the door in the realm of time: the door of the fleeting moment.

By now, space and time no longer coincide, no longer experience happy twists of fate. The chink’s careful geometry cannot contain the incursion of the phantom, which plunges in, fast and furious, at breakneck speed, one might aptly say. This swooping in occurs without reason, for otherwise one could not laugh, could not trigger the releasing process of laughter which, in this way, stems comparison and the approach of absence. Because Lacan also warned the artist that the real is impossible, so art becomes the exercise of the long neck which hugely expands its circling movement, taking advantage of the confirmation it has received, comforted by the news that the desert lies beyond, and maybe not even that…

Art thus becomes recompense for a wait that yields no visitor, a means of playing the two-fold role of guest and host, of those who, Nietzsche-like, beguile the wait by talking out loud and simultaneously falling silent so as to create the mirage of a meeting. The artist humorously sets to work, adopting the new saying: those who seek, shall not find. In this way, he both practises and achieves distance from any encounter, reducing the real to mere impediment, to the mechanical movement of opening and closing a door. And as it opens and closes, the door of the fleeting moment becomes a paper fan that stirs the air, that with its jagged movement conceals and reveals oscillating details, flashing forms and explosive signs.

With neither effort nor work, but with much ostentation, which by no means implies without skill, the artist repeatedly raises himself up on his neck, in the long-necked style, nimbly creating the sense of the Zen proverb: “Clapping with one hand.”

Lee has only one hand, concentrated and obsessed with skilfulness, with the dazzling, night-time use of the left hand. The artist’s hand is proverbially sinister, fortified by a peal of laughter that isolates and magnifies the gesture. Satisfied with his incompleteness, the artist perfects his own mutilation, cutting off his right hand, if it ever existed, between the hinges of the door. The artist, in other words, puts his right hand inside the door, meaning therefore outside the picture. Having thus disarmed himself, he prevents the right hand from knowing what the left is doing, thus losing all restraint and brazenly showing off works that have been knowingly created, like these by the Chinese artist, Lee.

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[Editor] 孙雯