Luo Mingjun ‘The Third Space’
The Third Space – can it be grasped or entered, perhaps even seen? What characterises this Third Space? It or he or she is neither ego nor alter. Instead there is a broadening of our thinking, which is culturally so tightly bound within binary dichotomies – within the antipodes of yes and no, East and West, Orient and Occident, true and false. Dualism is rejected as obsolete. In sociological theory, the figure of the third party is considered a kind of communicator, a medium that facilitates a breaking out of the dyadic structure and is able to stimulate differences between the alter and the ego. The perception of and reflection upon the third party provides an opportunity to break out of the constricting perspective of the dyad and to explore new spaces.
Luo Mingjun’s exhibition ‘The Third Space’ at the Galerie Gisèle Linder deals with this ‘Third Space’. What is more, the Third Space has become essential to and the home of Luo Mingjun’s work as an artist. The artist’s personal experiences with immigration – with setting out and with being underway – continue to shape her thinking and define her work. Nonetheless, whenever a decision has been made to live a life in diaspora, questions regarding cultural identity become inevitable – questions that can rarely be fully resolved. Luo Mingjun’s artistic investigations can be understood in terms of a search for answers to these questions: while an art student in China, she was trained in the Western oil painting of classical Modernism. However, only marginal traces of this can be discovered in her oeuvre today – only the medium of oil on canvas remains. On the other hand, Chinese elements have made their way into her work, whether in the form of old (family) photographs, her specific handling of oils or in her intensive exploration of paper.
The oscillation between two cultures that could not be more different and the productive failure of a definitive identification as either Eastern or Western have led Luo Mingjun to a place of refuge, the Third Space. In literature, specifically in works of post-colonial literature, it has long been possible to recognise attempts to enable descriptions of a Third Space – a Third Space that breaks with thinking in terms of isolated cultural and political contexts. Luo Mingjun tries to make a space of this kind productive for her art as well. She is searching for an imaginary place where identities can overlap and exist alongside one another without excluding each another. ‘The Third Space’, according to the artist, ‘is nevertheless not my personal space in a physical sense; instead, as a conceptual framework it is, in principle, open to anyone who wants to participate in it.’ In this sense, she not only assigns all of her own expectations for the future of her own artistic development to it – she also hopes for diverse collaborations and exhibition projects.
After a long search, Luo Mingjun’s art has found a place that it deserves and where it can continue to develop. The Third Space no longer demands identification – like the cloud of her newest works ‘Clouds’, which is able to hover freely and unrestricted in space.
Frederike Harrant, March 2014 Translation: Michael Wetzel