OVERVIEW

Sydney Shen

Liste Year

Year of Birth

Country of Birth

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2021

1989

United States

Gallery Vacancy

Sydney Shen, Myne Name Is Lubbert Das, 2021
Sydney Shen, Myne Name Is Lubbert Das, 2021

Inheriting the artist’s interest in the carnivalesque as a form of the macabre, Shen’s works are both enticing and horrifying. Seemingly familiar objects are discreetly transformed into sugar-coated pitfalls through the restoration of materiality as their original functionality is mischievously disarmed and twisted: a game with no way to win and no prize to gain, a container that contains its owner, or a murderous tool of labor. Myne Name Is Lubbert Das (2021) depicts a delicately decorated Longaberger table basket. Lubbert Das was a comical character in Dutch literature who was depicted in ...

Sydney Shen, My Heart Burns and the Fire Is Sweet, 2017
Sydney Shen, My Heart Burns and the Fire Is Sweet, 2017
Sydney Shen, Crudelissima Doglia, 2017
Sydney Shen, Crudelissima Doglia, 2017
Sydney Shen, I Want My Scream to Count, 2017
Sydney Shen, I Want My Scream to Count, 2017
Sydney Shen, My Heart Burns and the Fire Is Sweet, 2017
Sydney Shen, My Heart Burns and the Fire Is Sweet, 2017

Besides from its original functionality designed to eliminate flies, a fly-swatter could be employed as an execution prop for self-punishment. Replacing the gridded structure with stained-glass like patterns, the artist draws on imagery and text sourced from Catholic prayer, Renaissance madrigals, and online Halloween store. Crudelissima Doglia (2017), in particular, could be traced back to Carlo Gesualdo, an Italian prince infamous for his melancholic music as well as his sadomasochistic brutality. He hired servants to regularly beat him—some say it was to quell inner demons. Medicinali ...

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Examining the history of literature and cinema, the image of scarecrow lies between childish cuteness and passive-aggressive violence, fitting both toward peaceful and idealistic idyllic scenery or the symbol of horror with its semi- human characteristic. Inheriting her ongoing interest of the paradox between the lovable and the dread, Sydney Shen deconstructs the idea of scarecrow and reinforces it with delicately embroidered strait-jackets, setting up a fairy tale like environment with manic twists. Building upon that, Shen takes a deep look into the discussion between divinity and humanity, which can be traced back to the scarecrow for its duality in representation of both the sublime incarnation of Crucifixion and mortal incapability. Combining with the classic Chinese tale of Lady White Snake, which is reflected on the embossed matchbooks of the installation, Shen is fascinated with the idea of human’s desire of apotheosis and the immortal’s willing of humanization.

Sydney Shen, Thirst Is the Mother of Corvid Ingenuity, 2020
Sydney Shen, Thirst Is the Mother of Corvid Ingenuity, 2020

In Thirst Is the Mother of Corvid Ingenuity (cf. Rom. Anglicus #107) (2020), Sydney Shen borrows the title from the classic children’s book, The Crow and the Pitcher of Aesop’s Fables, narrating the story of a half-dead, thirst-driven crow using pebbles to reach the water in a high and narrow pitcher. Responding to the original story structure, Shen employs the form of a punitive boot, functioning not only as the subsititution for the water container but also the symbol of extreme restraint of the body, Manipulating the fetish accessory with its contradictory quality of both pleasur ...

Sydney Shen portrait

Sydney Shen (b. 1989, Woodbridge) lives and works in New York. She completed her BFA at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York in 2011. Shen uses sculptures and installations to create an atmosphere of wretched apprehension, examining the limitation of mentality through the extremity of the physical body. Exploring through various sources from historical and contemporary art history, including but not limited to medieval excruciation, supernatural horror fiction, and Internet subcultures, Shen frankensteins organic and fabricated materials such as Chinese and Western medica ...