In Li Ran’s new exhibition “Same Old Crowd,” the city of Singapore has been rendered almost entirely abstract. The Beijing-based artist, who spent three months in residence last year at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University Centre for Contemporary Art, takes a “participant observer” approachusing the tourist map as a starting point to craft a dehistoricized, flattened visual model of his subject. The two-channel video It Is Not Complicated, A Guidebook (all work, 2016) presents footage Li shot during a preplanned route through the city’s Gardens by the Bay while accompanied by an off-camera audio guide. This iconic 250-acre park, a fabricated community riddled with contradictions, can be seen as a metaphor for the nation-state itself: Accompanying the tour guide’s formulaic descriptions, tropical plants of all varieties are captured by the artist’s extremely shaky
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