Beili Liu

The Mending Project
Thu Mar 3, 2011 - Sat Apr 2, 2011

In an ambitious, large-scale installation, Beili Liu creates an atmosphere of beauty and danger. Suspending hundreds of dagger sharp Chinese scissors from the gallery ceiling, Liu immerses viewers in an environment that suggests distant fear and looming violence. The hovering cloud of shears is softened, however, by Liu herself who will sit beneath the countless sharp blades of scissors and perform an on-going simple task of mending. This mended cloth will grow in size throughout the duration of the exhibition, taking over the large area of the floor beneath the scissors. Liu’s quiet task of mending moderates the menace the scissors evoke and suggests the power of silent persistence in a simple action.

Sewing Circle on Sat. March 12, 1 – 3pm Bring your own mending and join Beili Liu at work in the gallery.

Thousands of pairs of sewing scissors create an intervention in the gallery when arranged by Beili Liu. Liu’s large format installation/performance takes over the space it occupies. The repetitive process she uses gives an immersive and powerful effect. The hovering mass of pointed metal scissors is threatening yet delicate. By creating a ghost cloud of shears she evokes a connection with textile workers in a distant factory and the quiet mending that goes on domestically day after day. The debut of the “The Mending Project” comes with an edge and gives voice to the tender action of mending, an action of care, connection, healing, an action that counters the intense weight and harshness above.

Project Description

The installation consists of thousands of Chinese scissors suspended from the ceiling, pointing downwards. The hovering, massive cloud of scissors alludes to distant fear, looming violence and worrisome uncertainty. The performer sits beneath the countless sharp blades of the scissors, and performs an on-going simple task of mending.

As each visitor enters the space, one is asked to cut off a piece of the white cloth hung near the entrance, and offer the cut section to the performer. She then continuously sews the cut pieces onto the previous pieces. The mended fabric grows in size throughout the duration of the performance, and takes over the vast area of the floor beneath the scissors.

These Chinese scissors are forged from black iron, smooth and curvilinear in form, with razor-sharp pointed blades. In Chinese tradition, a pair of scissors is considered a harsh object that is not to be positioned pointing at a person, for it will bring ill fortune. Its intrusive power is well respected in Feng Shui Practices throughout Chinese history. These scissors are used in each household as a common and humble hand tool, yet in times of need, they had often been used an effective makeshift weapon for women.

Simple and minute actions, if persistent, may initiate the hope of trust and healing in the most troubled times. The overwhelming situation presented in The Mending Project is balanced and softened by the silent persistence of a simple mending action. Each visitor’s thoughts and touch are embedded and transferred through the handling and passing the cut fabric pieces, and collected in the massive assemblage below.

The large quantity and intense force of the scissors elevate the confrontation between the objects and the performer. The installation/performance evokes urgency, concern, or even fear, while simultaneously influence viewers through the calming and healing aura of the mending action.