THE STORY OF THE STONE: FOUND CALLIGRAPHY
Site-specific exhibition/conceptual art project
found object by Qu Leilei and Caroline Deane
concept by Panpan Yang
Brunei Gallery, July 19 — September 23, 2023
Brunei Gallery's Japanese Roof Garden
courtesy of Brunei Gallery
This site-specific installation (or conceptual art exhibition) presents a set of stones – whose textures strikingly resemble the 26 letters of the English alphabet – found in nature by contemporary artists Qu Leilei and Caroline Deane. Together they articulate this line:
Unfit to mend the sky
This line is borrowed and translated from a Buddhist verse that appears in the first chapter of the eighteenth-century novel The Story of the Stone (Dream of the Red Chamber), a masterpiece in Chinese literature. It is said that when the goddess Nü Wa melted down stones to mend the sky, she made 36,501 blocks of stones. She used only 36,500 of these. The remaining block of stone, alone rejected, lamented day and night in distress and shame. Jia Baoyu, the male protagonist of the novel, was born with a piece of luminescent jade in his mouth; it was the rejected stone. After generations, the stone had returned to its huge shape, and there was an inscription discernible on it: an account of the stone being rejected, its transformation, its descent into the world of mortals, and all its joys and sorrows. The above-mentioned Buddhist verse was inscribed on the stone’s back.
Located in the heart of central London, Brunei Gallery's Japanese roof garden is a space of contemplation, meditation and transcendence. It is also a garden of words: the Kanji character, meaning "forgiveness," is engraved on the garden’s granite water basin. It is in this space that the stones took spiritual flight.
For the very first time, the stones tell us a story of the stone. As a new member of the family of found objects, the stones present themselves as found calligraphy.
Panpan Yang's role in this exhibition oscillates between artist and curator. If Qu Leilei and Caroline Deane have redefined the stones as contemporary art by changing their utility, their lifespan and their status, the rearrangement of the stones as a reaction to the exhibition space – and the new message that it creates – questions the blurring of the boundary between art creation and curation today.
U-N-F-i-t T-o M-E-N-D t-H-E s-K-Y
The stones installation after rain, photo by Panpan Yang
The Story of the Stone: Found Calligraphy, installation view
photo by Jiaqi Zhang
The Story of the Stone: Found Calligraphy,
Brunei Gallery's Japanese Roof Garden,
exhibition opening on July 19, 2023
photo by Jiaqi Zhang