The Check-in project is the brainchild of two Shanghai-based artists, Xi Xi and Lu Jiawei. Their renovation essentially transformed old residential houses not only into bed and breakfasts, but into art installations. The goal of the artists was to shatter preconceived notions that art could only be exhibited in museums and galleries. At the same time, they also wanted to explore the relationship between people and their surroundings objects. They wanted to create art that wasn’t only meant to be experienced visually, but also something physical that people could interact with. Their installation would also be something that their guests could own for twenty-four hours. Descending, and their more recent installation LSD Project, has in effect transformed old residential spaces into unique pieces of art.
The first Check-in project, Descending, is a white room filled with white styrofoam balls. In the space, there are also white walls, white windows, and white pieces of furniture scattered in a sea of styrofoam. During the day, light falls in through the windows from the tree-lined street outside, illuminating the alabaster white room. The art space is a striking contrast to the bustling metropolis that lies just outside.
LSD Project, the artists’ second piece of work, is similarly also located in an old residential building. The main concept of this project revolves around a peculiar system of lighting. Metallic silver is the main color palette of choice: every single wall, object, and surface is completely wrapped in tinfoil. Custom neon light tubes are hidden along the edges of walls, while other tubes are arranged overhead in a seemingly random arrangement. The multicoloured tubes of light intersect and criss-cross one another, reflecting off the metallic walls, enveloping the entire room in a diffused multichromatic glow.
Xi Xi graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London with a Masters degree in Design Features. After graduation, she returned to Shanghai and tried her hand in various fields, from photography to fashion design, even operating her own bed and breakfast at one point. Throughout all of that, she never stopped working on her own personal art projects. She worked independently, much like her friend Lu Jiawei, a sculptor and a former classmate at Fudan University. The main issue that this creative duo wanted to confront was the current inevitability of using galleries and museums as mediums when an artist wanted to exhibit their artwork to the public. Xi Xi and Jiawei believe that galleries and museums are rigid environments that have limitations, in the sense that those spaces restrict the level of interaction people can have with the displayed art.
Xi Xi has always believed that every individual is the sum of their own experiences. Experiencing new things, and the memories left over from those experiences, are most important. “We wanted to create a space where the artwork is tangible, and the audience is able to interact with it, and experience the artwork and our unique space, but privately”, Xi Xi says. This idea of creating interactive and tangible art was the inspiration for their Check-in project.
In the future, they hope to be able to collaborate with others who may come from different backgrounds, and to create new spaces with differently styled themes. For Xi Xi and Jiawei, they are open to whom they want to collaborate with, whether they are artists, dancers, hypnotists, philosophers, or even economists. Being able to combine ideas from different disciplines and fields with the goal of ending the notion that art can only be experienced in a public gallery setting is something that the two artists strongly believe in and want to keep pursuing.