Ah Xian: Mining materiality

The iron-bearing stones that grow from cast, gilded heads in Ah Xian's latest works have been named Xuan Yuan by China’s View Stone Association, for the mountain outside Beijing from where they were carried out in baskets on the backs of local farmers, valued not for their mineral content but as collectibles, given the age-old Chinese love of strange stones. Here they appear as one with human figures, but not quite. Like heavy, angular thought bubbles, these protruberant stones unsettle the viewer with a reminder that the oneness of humankind and nature is so often a state of precarious balance.

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