Ma Lingli



Star Gallery is pleased to present “Ma Lingli”, Ma Lingli’s solo project, from 7th March to 2nd April 2023.

Searching for the Divine in the Mundane Margins Introduction by Ju Baiyu

Start with the folds.

In the folds lie the secrets of desire, and the silken surface becomes unruly. One must pass through the furrows of desire to climb to the unreachable holy mountain or the infinite sanctuary, as everything has a texture.

In contrast to the physical tactility and sensation of her solo exhibition "Webbed" at the Today Art Museum in 2020, Ma Lingli’s latest works presented in this exhibition under her name are clouded with erotique noire (*Erotique noire literature emerged after World War II, is a branch of French literature that blends beauty and horror, pleasure and pain, taboo, and transgression. Writers such as George Bataille, Henry Miller, and Jean Genet are known to write in this genre. In contrast, female writers often published anonymously, including journalist Anne Desclos, who published Story of O. The actress Catherine Robbe-Grillet’s Woman’s Ceremony), validates Georges Bataille's statement that "Beauty becomes an object of desire to stigmatize it, not for its own sake, but the pleasure in the certainty of its desecration."

"Folds" appeared as early as Ma Lingli’s student years. Over the past ten years, this motif manifested in the images of half-covered stage curtains, collaged animal bodies, stoney caves, drying cloths, trees in a moving landscape, naked necks and backs of people in her moving images, rigid natural objects, and soft artificial fabrics. Folds with oriental qualities, those found in Greek and Roman visual culture, Gothic or classical periods, those painted on silk either flat or in three-dimensions, smooth and creased, as of now, they are free from their responsibilities for figuration, detached from the body, and transformed into a vast place to hide between the divine and the obscene.

Here I have to disclose the secret that the artist confided to me. About a decade ago, she had felt a sacred energy descending on all things in front of a seaside church at midnight on the Italian island of Pantelleria, between the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily, and Tunisia, at that very moment when the soul was showered by the sublime, she also felt a strong urge to urinate. With the pleasure of blasphemy, the artist faces the North African continent and joyfully releases herself. "It had to be done," says the artist. What took place on that dark and windy night on that holy island made her finally understand the claim that the sacred is not something people intend to defile; insofar as the act exists, it is defilement blasphemy. And while the holy denies the secular, it is also determined by what was denied. This resonates with the saying about eroticism that, "In any age, in any region, the divine principles have always been mesmerizing and overpowering: under which, people recognize the inner and discrete vitality.”

Hence, the folds encompass discrete order, the sacrifice to the sacred from the mundane, the obscene, and desires. The inherent elegance of the ink and brushwork on silk unfolds the artist's ineffable glimpse of her childhood. Being

outside the veil of the adult world, the artist has prematurely fulfilled her role of "auteur as a voyeur."

(The darkness was so long ago / the humiliated flesh has acclimatized / although, one day the door of shadows must open / take the first few steps /in search of the light / and to know oneself in the darkness —Michel Serres)