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January 20 - March 4, 2022
Tutu Gallery presents its best exhibition in over 3 years of making with artist/researcher/comic/magician Xinan Helen Ran. Behold Very Sweet, a project that playfully explores language, material, and comfort that gather around the theme of intimate joy. Mingling domestic objects with unassociated and overheard conversations in the public sphere, this show reflects the disorienting journey that one goes through from fear to, well, let’s avoid using that corny word* here to keep it sexy.
Conceived site-specific to the home of Tutu and April as a continuation of Xinan’s last solo Future Trash, everyday items including floor cushions, shower curtains, tags, markers, and fragrances are paired with text through embroidery, heat transfer, gluing, drawing, and writing. The exhibition is installed around the living room, the kitchen, and the bathroom, posting as a scavenger hunt backdropped by the accumulation of private life. However, some pieces aren’t covered thoroughly in this account of conceptual reasoning due to the artist’s impulsivity in making such random work and the gallerist’s excitement to see them realized.
The title Very Sweet comes from the bilingual Chinese and English cardboard price signs that street fruit vendors set up around Chinatown. The low prices are boldly written in large digits on the paper cutout along with direct descriptions of 很甜 (very sweet), 好甜 (so sweet), or 包甜 (guaranteed sweetness). Often carried out in casual yet beautiful calligraphy, such signage conveys messages beyond a good deal. To people that can not only read and write, but also appreciate the significance of skilled penmanship, these marks reveal the rich cultural background and complex migratory narrative of the sign maker.
Cost-conscious passersby are driven by the numbers, but the gripping confidence in quality can cause reasonable suspicion and alarm. If you stop your track to get some strawberries, mangoes, or cherries – the fruits are indeed, always very sweet.
Xinan Helen Ran & April
*love (joy, and gratitude)