Cover image of the review
Installation view of *the title is no longer relevant*, Chunxiao Qu, 2021, Trocadero Art Space. Photo: Christo Crocker

Chunxiao Qu, the title is no longer relevant

20 Feb 2021
27 Jan - 20 Feb 2021

Chunxiao Qu’s recent exhibition at Trocadero in Footscray, titled the title is no longer relevant, contains seven editioned works in neon. Most of these feature static text: DO THINGS YOU CAN’T DO (2019) for example is a blue all-caps text stating the title, while KEEP YOUR INNOCENCE BY ALWAYS WONDERING WTF ??? (2020) continues likewise in pink. Some of the neons include variations in colour, such as EVERYONE IS EVERYONE ELSE (2019), still others use relay switches rotating through a set of changes and additions. These electrical sequences cycle through the options in LONELY OR HORNY (2020) as well as McDonald’s Work (2019), the latter being the only work in the show to contain an image.

Chunxiao Qu, KEEP YOUR INNOCENCE BY ALWAYS WONDERING WTF ???, 2020, led neon with transparent acrylic frames, 140 x 32.3cm, edition of 5. Photo: Christo Crocker

Qu writes poetry alongside her art and has recently published a book called Popcorn, porn of poetry. (2021). The book, written in both English and Mandarin, contains poems by the artist. The English versions/translations form the basis for the works in this show. Qu is a “native Chinese speaker”, as the Trocadero website reminds us, and her poetry shows a playful, tinkering approach to English as an adopted language. The quirks of English as a non-primary language are sometimes mocked and ridiculed in a thinly veiled racism and bigotry, but I find that Qu has turned this apparent deficit into a positive attribute that works for her. The tactical, halting and amateur use of a language allows a flexible relation to its rules and regulations. Broken English is a feature of Qu’s poetry, not a bug. How else could the title of her book make the unlikely link between porn and popcorn? A connection is there in the combinations of letters jumbled up and rearranged.

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