Nevertheless, Xie Yi does not discard the“contemporaneity” in his work. The aspiration of those silent beings in the contemporary art exhibition space, who always eagerly communicate to the beholder's knowledges and messages about themselves, is not eliminated. The artist seems to take on the “Realism-Humanism” stance of Ilya Repin(1844-1930), the representative of the Russian Itinerants (this exhibition is named after his work Barge Haulers on the Volga), encompassing heterogeneous issues in his works, such as the body as an aesthetic object, art history, popular culture, humanism, power agencies that have been veiled in every corner of the world, as well as fused ideologies risen from globalisation and urbanisation. Xie Yi searched for existing “cultural signifiers”, of which the interpretations originated from diverse cultural backgrounds become woven into a certain scene. Various values (which may conflict with one another at times) are represented by the “cultural signifiers”, “enchanting” the substances which occupy the physical space, attempting to immortalise them (the immortality they gain, nevertheless, often remains questionable) - this is also a common function of the sculptural media.
Xie Yi is interested in the matters pertaining to“labour”. Labour (of which creation or even conceptual creation is a subcategory) is regarded by some as a relentless activity that consumes life; it is inescapable being born to be a human. The sensations that Repin’spaintings convey are loneliness, misery, and yet they are heroic. However, as what Camus remarked on Sisyphus: “The absurd man… he knows himself to be themaster of his days.” Xie Yi understands that specific labour works are not thoroughly an affliction under the “maximum economy benefits” logic that oneseeks to escape from; instead, it offers him the opportunity to “intimately encounter” with the reality --- the seemingly consuming labour thus becomes functioned to resist nihilism in the present. Perhaps, instead of modeling a“timeless” value, it would rather be worth to accentuate the development and chaos of the values, so that its vitality can endure. Hence, labour is transformed from a “process” to a “target”.