Xiaofeng Li grew up in Shanghai, China. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, he spent six years working as a senior accountant for a state-owned company, while also shooting commercials, promos, and documentaries in his spare time. Currently, he is studying for his MFA degree at Tufts University.
His work is concerned with the convergence of ideology, philosophical thought, and human nature, creating a narrative of dislocation and contrast through the abstraction of objects. In 2022, he had a group exhibition, “Visions and Revisions,” at Nearby Gallery, Newton, MA.
My work is about desire and restriction. I had a Gameboy and was very obsessed with video games during my childhood. My parents forbade me to play and hid the Gameboy in various places in our house. This is the first time I felt my desire was restricted. After a long time, that pink, square game console kept appearing in my dreams. It came to my mind when my parents restricted me from playing basketball, climbing trees, or swimming in the lake. The restrictions came not only from my parents but from all parts of my life when I grew older: the uniform slogans I was required to use in high school military training, the garbage cans that had to be absolutely clean. I felt that the restrictions imposed on me were exceeding my own desires, and that these external signals were guiding my behavior with the ultimate goal of making me learn to obey.
Animals have always had their own territories. Territory for animals is a sanctuary, reducing aggression, adjusting mating and reproduction, balancing the distribution of food and other resources, and reducing the spread of disease. Humans also divide territories in the same way. After our individual, family, or group has controlled or occupied the area to meet a need, it is marked by buildings such as walls, fences, or symbolic signs that are easily recognized by others. Restrictions seem to be engraved in the DNA of all creatures, protecting their continuity. But as civilization developed and social order was established, the "invisible" restrictions of law were created, and restrictions gradually became derivatives of power. Restrictions no longer serve to protect the survival and development of individuals and groups, but to satisfy desires.
I abstract my initial desires and put them in these "shackles" from which I was once unable to break free, and I use the images to express the thinking process of restrictions, struggles, and desires.
Headshot by Naail Ali, BFA '23