The title ‘Four Thieves Vinegar’ is “a prophylactic against bubonic plague” invented by French thieves during a major outbreak, which provided protection from infected corpses. The press release delves into the 1600s, giving detailed accounts of some of the affected, as well as a poem about transience by William Dunbar in 1505.
Placing the work within the context of physical, psychological and cultural infection, as well as exorcism, demons and the concept of classification, Shen has brought together a number of sculptural and appropriated objects into a delicate installation. It includes moments that are barely visible or ‘alive,’ such as a string of emerald stones placed around the perimeter of a vent or a circular shaped trail of decaying mandarin orange peels.**
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