“Polit-Sheer-Form is a form devoid of political content and core values; it is a kind of mobilisation, a kind of mood, an ideal form.”

artist group (Hong Hao, Xiao Yu, Song Dong, Liu Jianhua, Leng Lin), est. 2005

The members of Polit-Sheer-Form Office, all in their 50s, were young children during the Cultural Revolution. The forced collectivism that decimated their parents’ generation and traumatised the survivors is for them a happy memory. But it haunts them, too, in a different way: raised to view individualism as a blight, they regard Chinese society’s growing liberality with alarm. Successful artists in their own right (Leng Lin is a curator), they formed PSFO to promote their vision of a new collectivism, voluntary and apolitical, to counter the spread of selfishness. Their group is itself a performance piece of sorts, with its “spokesman” a PhotoShop amalgam of all five artists’ faces, and its trademark “PSFO blue” a blend of cyan, red, and a collectively mixed secret colour. Library (2008) emerged from a trip the artists made to one of the last collectivist communes in China, during which they all read the same book, The Future of Socialism, and reflected that in the past, Chinese people were all forced to read Mao’s Little Red Book. Applying the PSFO vision to that idea, the five created an all-blue library containing what they describe as a single book of 8000 volumes, all identically blue and entirely blank. If this represents the new collectivism, it offers “borrowers” no choice, no content, and no subject for debate. Even the emptiness into which they are free to inject their thoughts is a uniform, unchangeable, PSFO-dictated blue.


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