Reflecting the interests in environment, embodied narrativity and interactive feelings, Tingyi Xu's practices critically involved the contemporary public sphere majorly through installation, sculpture, photography, and he has also been exploring the performative language and moving image media in recent experiments. He strives to address his concerns with art strictly relevant to social affairs while using his multicultural background as the vehicle. Before turned into western art in high school, he had studied Chinese painting for nine years. This experience granted him an inclusive language of both traditional and contemporary aesthetics along with a unique perception of space and time.
"Withdraw self transitorily from the illusionary authenticity", a strategy expressed by Xu as a countermeasure - "simultaneity", "on-site" that provided evenly by the global network is now standard, cheap, meanwhile, narcotising the masses' cognition of existing - to the slightest extent, unfunction, disrupt and provoke awareness onto the absence of immaterial existences lurking in daily life. His philosophy categorises distinctive, resonant metaphors from his mind-map and combines them to form a bridge between work and space. This method induces a private and tangible adventure throughout his large-scale installations.
Xu has been working closely with another Chinese artist Xuan Liu recently to create Persona Non Grata, a soundscape composed of 14 short chapters for the December Late at Tate Britain online event. The number comes from the "14-day quarantine" measure widely adopted by countries around the world to control the outbreak of COVID-19. He integrated location recordings with Siri voice-overs in both Mandarin and English to reconstruct a virtual landscape, representing his experience and perception of the past year through a one-sided mirror of the cultural and language system.
127 is a photograph recorded an animal control law enforcement incident in China in 2018. Xu coincidentally captured the moment of climax. This photo was printed for the first time in September 2020 and participated in the exhibition at the London Saatchi Gallery. The first edition is currently in the personal collection of Paul Gervais, an American artist and collector. "Everyone rushed to reach out to me, desperate to know whether it (referring to the photo) was showing the racially violent law enforcement of the Chinese police, or the resistance of Chinese people to the authorities, or expressing China's growing domestic and international hostility. People judge based on their position rather than facts, as exactly as I expected, no one values the truth now, let alone the dead puppy." The title "127" came from the duration of the 127 minutes of his witness of that distressing, shocking and tormented moment, mocking and questioning every inch of indifference, including Xu himself.
In At Last Begin To Loosen, a loud-enough sound was created inside the transparent fishbowl, shook and then broke the surface tension of the blue paint, left it sliding down along the surface. The liquid gradually dried up layer by layer and condensed into a barrier which in the end, muffled the loud noise. It was a response to the recent worldwide protests and also a reflection towards the common ground among those turmoils.