Sydney Shen (born in 1989 in New Jersey, currently based in New York) is a Chinese-American female artist who has garnered attention from the members of the Longlati Foundation’s Writers’ Acquisition Committee (Shanghai), including Chen Jiaying, Chen Xi’an, Li Suchao, and Yuan Jiawei, in their respective research practices. In her debut exhibition in Shanghai titled “Misery Whip,” presented at Gallery Vacancy in early 2021, Shen combines sculpture, installations, and immersive environments that blend human corporeal history, medical history, archaeological found objects, contemporary symbols, and science fiction narratives. These works create a mirrored reality of the real world, reflecting the tension and intricate texture of constructive practices. In her subsequent solo project titled “Cupio Dissolvi” at Liste Art Fair Basel, the artist further explores one of her signature visual languages. By magnifying and scaling ordinary everyday objects to the point of alienation and weaponization, Shen reflects on internal conflicts, divisions, and renewal within oneself.
The installation artwork “Puritan Salvage Demolition Co. pencil” that was acquired through Gallery Vacancy is part of the artist’s recent solo exhibition titled “Strange but True” at the Queens Museum in New York. It also reflects this aesthetic clue. One end features a Liberty Graphite Lead Pencil, enlarged to two meters, adorned with a cute teddy bear decoration. The adorable teddy bear serves as a temptation to “condition” children into a state of learning and symbolizes children’s participation in the process of socialization. The pencil bears the embossed gold lettering “Puritan Salvage Demolition Co.,” the fictional brand trademark created by Sydney Shen, referencing a defunct resource recycling station operated by the mob in the famous TV series “The Sopranos.” This juxtaposition implies the inherent institutional/structural contradictions in the process of human growth.