Li Zeyi at C5CNM / Beijing

 Li Zeyi / The World’s Number One Sport

September 10 - October 9, 2022


Building E03, 798 Art District

Beijing, China

'In what way to address or reject the presence of something', as Isebelle Stengers puts it, is the essential practice of contemporary governmentality. Surely, the naturalized players in the video installation ‘‘The World’s Number One Sport Runs Into the Great Unknowable’’ are not 'exiles' irreconcilable with the biopolitical space or an 'irreducible' fool like Bartleby. Rather, they are the 'unfits' who are constantly measuring their ‘comfort ‘or ‘discomfort’ and who are both violated in various oppressive institutions and actively seeking space for their own survival in a neoliberal system, measured in terms of comfort and discomfort.

Through the collage and re-allocation of images, ‘‘The World’s Number One Sport’’ engages with the 'assembly' of the contemporary political mechanism itself through the performance of the identity politics of the 'inconspicuous unfits' and the complicity of the neoliberalism. Zeyi Li enjoys the idea to parody or simulate the way the whole system operates. The series of performative interviews where the naturalized players attended or were absent, the bureaucratic speeches, the empathy in video games, were all cut into different nodes of the whole political 'assembly' in an analytical manner. ‘Characters’ transform into different signal nodes of the entire cybernetic assembly just to make sure the LED bar above them beams at the right time. Whatever the result, the system revolves around the deep void, cyclically.

In Zeyi Li’s image practice, Stengers’ ambition of cosmopolitics over the cunning universal freedom seems to be missing under the same insight. But with the pettiness of the 'unfits', any sort technology of the self ends up with the loss of the ultimate concern in political theology - the gates of Eden are closed, the roar of the political machine would not goes beyond its shell. The glory of the angelic gospel never has an echo in the present world.