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Bad Physics

29 June - 4 August



THE SHOPHOUSE is pleased to present Bad Physics, a duo exhibition by artists Sebastian Burger and Julian Junyuan Feng featuring a body of paintings, sculptures, mixed media and video artworks. Founded on ideas of Dadaism and ‘pataphysics’, the exhibition contemplates the rules and rationality of common structures, ranging from everyday mechanisms to larger systemic ideologies. Interpreting the above via techniques of deconstruction as well as decontextualization, Bad Physics imagines alternative paradigms that contradict the preconceptions of logic and function.

Science is often equated with the notion of an absolute truth, and under this hypothetical, physics is the unequivocal way through which to understand the world. It teaches that objective observations are the mark of reality, yet as inherently emotional creatures, why must we abide by this doctrine? Leipzig-based artist Sebastian Burger sheds light on a repositioned perspective through his painted examinations of displaced quotidian objects. Under his brush, everyday subjects such as the composition of a window and the locking mechanism of a carabiner keychain are enhanced with heightened hints of fragility and tension. Inspecting beyond the reasonable surface, the artworks are quietly suggestive of the sexual or violent characteristics implicit in seemingly ordinary actions.

Shanghai-based artist Julian Junyuan Feng’s sculptures and mixed media works are ambiguous machines created to be non-functional or functional only in imaginary manners. His artworks resemble fictitious communication devices or experiments with illogical body parts, as if science developed exclusively on speculation. Feng’s mystic contraptions bring to mind the discredited theories of spiritual mediums or the works of a fictional mad scientist. Yet, reshaped into a methodical aesthetic, Feng’s artworks appear as if artefacts of an undetermined civilization.

Man-made environments are conceived under meticulous calculations to ensure maximum efficiency and order. Feng’s Air Rage (2023) is a video artwork that investigates the modern airplane as a microcosm of a class-based society. Bottled within an eerily realistic simulation, the video tours through an empty cabin invested with worm and flesh-like organisms. Beyond the frame, a narrator speaks calmly and collectively about the findings of a study. Though the conviction of science often offers reassurance in situations of uncertainty, the incongruous visual and auditory experience of Feng’s artwork questions whether the effect is of clarification or placation. Not unlike the peculiarities discerned by Burger in his paintings, the video alludes to science’s modification of the natural order via the conditioning of perception.

An inquiry of its own, Bad Physics explores the gray areas in-between the binary verdicts of logic. It posits that there are invisible dynamics hidden within the crevices of function, and realms that exist beyond conceivable reality. It asks, “How are we to comprehend the inconclusive?” and perhaps more importantly, “Must the answer be absolute?”


29 June
4 August
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