You squeeze your way into Michael Ku Gallery. It looks like the second half of a house party.
Water, malt, hops, rice, yeast. Ingredients common on food labels. You have probably seen them somewhere before. The floor feels sticky. There is no alcohol here, only scent remotely familiar. The above ingredients are dispersed all over the floor. Conceptually they are slowly turning into beer. The sense of space and time, the smell, the way things feel to the touch… Someone let out an exclamation, this is the true estate of Michael Ku! Visitors here always amuse me.
The snail is not invited this time though, thank goodness. I never know what pronoun to use – him or her – when I make introductions. After all, the term hermaphrodite was coined onto snails based on human’s polarizing view towards reproductive dualism. These are creatures from dark, damp corners signifying life and growth. They are also a local delicacy and a source of precious cosmetic ingredients.
Compared to snails, methylene blue is more sensitive and refined. It is temperamental, meant to be viewed and not tasted. Chemical indicators are visual materials utilized around the time when medieval alchemy developed into modern biochemistry. Party regulars’ survival kit. Let me tell you this, some things only happen in the restrooms, at the urinal or by the sink. Red or blue? The instantaneous switch of color is always nerve-racking. How lovely is that.
If you arrive late, there would not be a single soul at Michael Ku Gallery.
You may explore the space as you wish, not unlike how you woke up at an unfamiliar apartment the night before. You would look into the mirror, validate your own existence in the dark, then start examining the perfumes set on the stainless steel shelve. Will they test positive or negative? To the side are his personal collections, some covered in dust. A scent reminiscent of moist clay lingers.
Luo, Jr-shin’s solo exhibition Snails (Not Included) is a synthesis and reflection of urban culture. The ill-materialism that Luo employs stems from the tradition of conceptual art. However, instead of critiquing and essentialzing the relationship between audience perception and the institution of modern art, Luo’s approach to viewership and institution is closer to that of material choreography. The inherent meaning of abstract, syntactic combinations such as “chemical reactions,” “electrical conduction,” and even “material labels” are often deconstructed with socially inclined motivations, reinterpreted as metaphors for sex and power. In Luo’s work, interpersonal chemical reaction is reintroduced back to the realm of art.