Bai Yiluo works often incorporate photography and traditional sculptural techniques, media disparate in their ancient and contemporary connotations. Bai draws upon these to develop installations which reflect the human condition as a cyclical struggle, torturously beautiful and poetically triumphant. Bai’s Civilization is a haunting monument enshrining imperious power as a corrupted vision built on labourers’ toil. Made from terracotta, classical busts pose as emperors and slaves, pierced through and defined by agricultural tools, a life force and bane. Set upon twelve individual plinths, Civilization bridges reference to both Eastern and Western spiritualism, while its violent form suggests revolution, conflict, and rebirth as the isochronal quality of nature.
In Lay Down (Hospital Bed), Bai uses a tree trunk as a symbolic form: of life, nation, culture, people. Hollowed out and ‘mummified’ with thousands of identity card photos, the log is placed on an elongated hospital bed, a sickly altar denoting hope and loss. Coated in lacquer, Bai’s sculpture exudes a regal presence in its decline, its quiet puissance and beatific aura reminiscent of sarcophagi effigies. The photographs are arranged in an interlocking pattern referencing lamellar armour (a design associated with the Zhou dynasty), each intimate portrait anonymously contributing to the power and strength of the whole.