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an interactive performance & video installation by chinese sibling artists Cai & Le Xi

Cai Xi presented an interactive performance in the larger front space of Three Phase Center - inspired by her mother's words "leaving my body, changing my bones" while her brother Li presented a video installation in the blacked out back space of the building. 


Cai's work connects the body with the Earth and air through regenerative movement and Le uses cameras and sketches to record the material edges of urban environments searching for elusive qualities. While both reference shared processes of life and art, Cai uses her body to draw circles around herself, making marks wherever her body can reach, revealing cycles of growth and decomposition, and Le continues his search using machines, lenses, light, space, and physical objects saying "No matter how I explain its meaning, I have never caught it exactly. I just keep trying, never interrupted." However it goes, the pair's combination of technology and the spiritual hints at the potential of repetitive motions to generate perpetual states of nothingness and letting go.


Cai is a painter, chef, educator and Taiji master who has been practicing for over thirty years. Cai's extensive painting practice (including landscape, portraiture and abstraction) extends to the kitchen where, as a chef she uses the Chinese Five Element theory as a lens for understanding the relationships between the body and its environments, including the weather, emotions, and the health of the inner organs. Cai's colorful and tasty foods blend her artistic instinct and approach to healthy living as a way to create community around her. 


Cai is part of the experimental contemporary art scene, a maverick in her own right, forging new solutions with each work in process. At the same time, she has a connection to and transforms traditional classical Chinese art through calligraphy and the principles of ‘brush’ (using the common mop, broom, and mason’s trowel), ‘ink’ (as oil or enamel paint), and, what has been known for centuries in China as the ‘bone’ of compositional structure. Much of her connection to traditional Chinese painting is espoused in the 17th century treatise, The Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting: “The great unifying aim has been to express Tao, the way – the basic Chinese belief in an order and harmony in nature” , “the close relationship between painting and calligraphy” and “the traditional view that painting is not a profession but an extension of the art of living.” Cai relates to the Tao as a mystical groundedness. Cai received her M.F.A. from Vermont College of Fine Arts and her B.F.A. from Shanghai Theatre Institute.  

Le Xi was born during China’s Cultural Revolution and grew up during a period of contemporary Chinese history and globalization. His work has appeared in group exhibitions in China as part of the contemporary Chinese art scene. In 2002 Xi moved to New York and in 2009 his work was included in the group exhibition “Mary’s Choice” curated by Mary Heilmann at the 303 Gallery. Later he was part of “Drawing itself: A Survey of Contemporary Practice” curated by Mara Williams at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center in Vermont. In 2010 he received The Alumni Scholarship Award and got his MFA in fine art from The School of Visual Arts in New York City.  In 2013, he was part of the 55th Venice Biennale as part of the Chinese parallel “independent voice” exhibition and teaches at Sichuan Fine Arts Institute. Le explains his work process: “I have experimented with technology. I contemplate the transition from the mechanical to the biological. I have seen the unbroken procession from day to night, the cycle between sunlight and the world of electricity. During the day I follow the structure of the world as defined by shadows. At night, I conceive more power over the shadow by controlling illumination. I am interested in the space between the object and shadow, in which, I believe, art exists. A dramatic relationship is between structure and sensibility created by repetition, change, shifts, and the fluidity of action. By doing this, there is a disregard for the boundaries between substance and shadow, and time and space.”

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