photos: Francesco Galli © La Biennale di Venezia . + guggenheim
Sun Yuan & Peng Yu are known for using dark humor to address contentious topics, and the robot’s endless, repetitive dance presents an absurd, Sisyphean view of contemporary issues surrounding migration and sovereignty.
However, the bloodstain-like marks that accumulate around it evoke the violence that results from surveilling and guarding border zones. Such visceral associations call attention to the consequences of authoritarianism guided by certain political agendas that seek to draw more borders between places and cultures and to the increasing use of technology to monitor our environment.
Placed behind clear acrylic walls, their robot has one specific duty, to contain a viscous, deep-red liquid within a predetermined area. When the sensors detect that the fluid has strayed too far, the arm frenetically shovels it back into place, leaving smudges on the ground and splashes on the surrounding walls.