StartPoint Prize 2016

Wuji Ye

It is easy to forget what it was like to live and struggle for freedom of expression in a totalitarian regime. Wuji Ye reminds us of it with surprising directness in his works, focusing on the border area of China and home to the Uighur population. His subversive project MGSB lifts out of invisibility and pure utility actual security barriers, structures which significantly define everyday life on the periphery of an empire which demonstrates its presence through them. With the permission of the authorities, the symbols of power in his project become architectural features, assessed by random passers-by in terms of their beauty. From this it is but a step to imagine groups of people in vivid discussion next to a concrete barrier, debating its aesthetic qualities. The project Nyiet on the other hand focuses on the intimacy of private life, disrupted by mistrust after an intervention by the powers that be. Much like a detective, the artist ventures on his own to look for evidence of his girlfriend being part of a terrorist network, for it is inconceivable that the authorities’ suspicion is ungrounded. Big Brother never sleeps.