TINGWEI LI (*1989) is a young emerging artist, residing both in Berlin and Shanghai. She studied at Arts University (UdK) in Berlin, at Hunter College in New York and Tongji University in Shanghai. She was a residential artist at Pro Helvetia (Swiss Arts Council) in 2020 and was listed in Forbes “30 Under 30 China” in 2017. Prior to that Tingwei participated in residency programs at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai, Flux Factory in New York and Kooshk Residency in Iran.
The solo exhibition DO NOT DONUT presents a selection of video and object installations from the years 2017-2020. The phonetic transcription /duː nɒt/ and / ˈdəʊˌnʌt/ offers sound complexes that minimally differ in the set of its sound features, coining into a pattering und wanton phrase. It resembles the frequent appeals on Youtube and TV shows “Do not doubt”, “Do not do this and that” in the infinite number of shows and pitches by the leadership coaches. Semantically, “do not donut” and “donut” itself can have several connotations and serve as a metaphor of our contemporary society. Originally a hole poked with a finger in the dough allowed donut to fry quicker and evener. A donut glazed in pink with sprinkled confetti on top became a symbol of the consumeristic behaviour and fast food industry in the West. A swimming ring in form of a donut floating on blue waters of a swimming pool is a frequent hero of social media posts, promoting a chilled and carefree lifestyle, rather than serving as a lifebuoy in the critical situations.
Another term “doughnut economics”, excogitated in 2012 by the Oxford University economist, Kate Raworth, represents a visual scheme for a sustainable development. The inner circle includes everything that inures our social security foundations such as peace, health, justice and equality; the outer circle re-defines the goals in view of formidable global issues such as air pollution, ocean acidification, land conversion and freshwater withdrawals. Staying within these two circles promises the humanity the safe navigation through the deep waters of uncertainty.
In the times when an image defeats a written word, one tends sketch and illustrate the complex things. In her video works Tingwei Li creates the narratives with complex structures, interlacing and juxtaposing events and mystifications, unwrapping many semantical layers. And what seems to be sometimes a Theatre of the Absurd, is a reality depiction in focus, and a thoroughly elaborated approach of working with various visual languages, textures and approaches of the perceptual psychology.