Cry Joy Park ––– Fold
Laser-cut flashspun nonwoven HDPE garden, copper fruit, mechanical elements
Tang Contemporary Art
October 27 - December 15, 2018
Cry Joy Park, the latest series of work by Jennifer Wen Ma, examines the value systems that humans create when building civilizations. These systems are often composed of opposing forces that are difficult to reconcile and balance. The formation of a society requires the contributions of a large workforce, yet the resulting benefits are too frequently enjoyed by a select few. This unjust system is just one example of how our society does not include all of its members in the very premise of the paradise they strive to build. In this series of visually stunning work, contrasting black and white paper gardens invite the audience into an imagined utopian or dystopian landscape to explore issues of social inequality, wealth disparity, social participation, welfare, and personal empowerment, among others.
Upon stepping into the Tang Contemporary gallery, one finds oneself in an immersive dark garden. A tangle of foliage, branches, and crawling vines hang from the walls and ceiling. Walking underneath the garden, viewers can see an exposed, netlike root system above, and hanging black paper vegetation that lends a sense of oppression. Created by the artist’s unique honeycomb paper structures, golden highlights on the foliage bring out a tonal richness that shines through the layers of black paper. Large copper fruits hang heavily below the leaves and vines.
At the end of the room, the audience passes into another space that is the formal opposite of the first—a garden created in white paper, expansive and full of light. This space is high-ceilinged and well-organized. Whereas the first garden was dark and oppressive, this one is bright and expansive. A copper fruit sways freely in the air.
During the exhibition period, workers continue to build the two gardens. They cut, sew, assemble, arrange and hang paper to make the black garden increasingly more crowded, compressed, and challenging to navigate; while the white garden expands and climbs higher towards the ceiling. These two works, made from similar materials and methods, create drastically different effects in the two galleries. As they continue to change over the exhibition period, the dark and light gardens seem to compress and expand, respectively, extracting opposing energies.