Lili White

Artist Statement

LILI WHITE – DEPARTURE

Featuring: Installation with Video, Reversible Paintings, and Shadow Boxes.

at CH’I:AN ART SPACE, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 12/19/03 through 1/25/04

DEPARTURE (definition):
  1. a departing; going away; leaving
  2. a starting out, as on a trip or new course of action: as, political action is a new departure for labor.
  3. a deviation or turning aside (from something.)
  4. [archaic] death.
  5. in nautical usage:
    1. the distance of a ship due east or west from the meridian of its starting point.
    2. a ship’s position in latitude and longitude at the start of a voyage from which the dead reckoning is begun.


My latest show was inspired by the myriad meanings that define the word “departure,” and by my interest in the structure of Chinese ideogram “to depart.”

All of the works in the show exchange images between each other; exploring relationships between the photographic and the calligraphic ideogram “to depart”; which had 4 changing phases of execution over time before becoming obsolete and removed from the dictionaries.

Traditional Chinese calligraphy has its own critical criteria concerning line and composition. Foremost is the relationship between the horizontal and vertical strokes that make up the form of each character. This particular character reminds me of a doorway or gate, and I did indeed find an old cattle gate that corresponds to this shape that can be seen in the video.

Arriving at a sense of balance and harmony in the execution of calligraphy is similar to the struggle of Homo sapiens to maintain equilibrium as they walk upright; departing from the realm of the strictly animal, ushering in human consciousness, heading toward civilization.

I illustrate this thought by designing the visual elements to be partially obscured and change with the available light. Variations are found on either side of the reversible paintings; Corner Piece asks the viewer to discover its hidden projections; and the ideogram’s lines burned into the outside glass of the shadow boxes cast their shadows to toy with the lines found on the inside of the box.

Perhaps these works will bring to mind such ideas as parallel universes, a dream world, or a world whose inside-outside belongs to a singular unit – such as the body-mind connection felt while walking on the earth in our precarious stance.

Email Address: info@liliwhite.com
Alternate Website: www.liliwhite.com

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