Kin Man Cheong (Macau)
Group Y2K (Taiwan)
Vermont Coronel Jr. (Philippines)
Yuree Kensaku (Thailand)
Duyi Han (China/NY)
Cowper Wang (Taiwan)

“Life dimension in art” is a group show about the artistic reflections of Asia artists under the coronavirus pandemic. As the pandemic moves into our region, cities, communities, neighborhoods and homes, within just few months we have encountered the huge change process of pandemic in our life; disintegration, fragility, destruction, feeling, adjustment, adaptation, active confrontation, confrontation, and unity.

UNESCO and CISAC announced “Resili Art” on April 15 the day of World Art Day focusing on the urgent issues of cultural workers, including discussion of artists ’social and economic rights, copyright protection, digitization of content, and freedom of speech. To quote the Director General Audrey Azoulay: In this era of turbulence and uncertainty, we need those things that unite us – those that show us the diversity of the world – for this, we need artists.

Before the outbreak of the pandemic, the global economy fluctuated up and down. Since the invention of Bitcoin, the industry’s development gradually moving from centralization to decentralization. The world is already on the road to de-globalization, and the epidemic has just accelerated its disengagement. When the global economy and geopolitics have become more divided, there is no country, region, or leader process the authority and advantage. Under the development of science and technology, the economy has turned to regionalization, local supply chain, even more nationalism and populism arouses. We have entered and are in the “posthuman era.”

In the book “HOW WE BECAME POSTHUMAN: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics,” the “posthuman” defined by N. Katherine Hayles is a concept. It opens up new ways of thinking to reflect the exciting vision of human meaning and believe in humans in a “new cultural configuration” condition and questioning a stable and coherent self of human, which is to witness a fact of a stable and consistent old idea.

From Taiwanese artist Cowper Wang’s work, “Viral City” is a combination of floor projection and nine television displays on the wall. It is like a lab experiment for cultivating viruses, and it is an analogy that there is a connecting effect in the city, and also dispersal and oppression of civilization. The bird’s eye view places emphasis on the smallness of humankind, and also depicts the various responses that people have when the end of the world comes. The mutants that have survived the catastrophe are representative of selfishness, anxiety, distance, joy, bliss…different personality traits and human desires, which are depicted in the nine hybrid forms. These life’s progressions based on negative emotions are bound to strive toward the future, regardless if they are satisfied with their state of being or not.

Until today people is keeping social distance with the mask. When escapism, avoidance of confrontation, violence, fear, and frustration both personal and social, these are concealed under oversimplification of truth and cheerful colours, a sugar-coated shell hiding its bitterness underneath.

Thailand artist Yuree Kensaku transformed the issues around herself into various types of art throughout artistic career. In her thinkings of  “When far becomes near” which reveals we are all receiving countless news at a time. Over-information, suffering and calamity have plagued the minds of people all over the world. We are constantly comparing ourselves to someone. We face discomfort and dissatisfaction in ourselves about a hundred times a day. She once made a painting called “Shortcut to Melancholy Hill” in 2010 which illustrates this phenomenon.

Shortcut to Melancholy Hill, 2010, 197 x 240 cm., acrylic and collage on canvas

The Sun Loses its Light, 2010, 130 x 175 cm., acrylic and collage on canvas

Last Room: the Buddha, 2009, 203 x 86.5 cm, acrylic, ribbons, painted wood snakes, metal butterflies, door curtain and wood panel

During the epidemic, people soak themselves into work and life via computer and mobile phone. Our frontline medical personnel guarded the homes, regardless the boundary, through New York artist Duyi Han, his project “The Saints Wear White” pays tribute to coronavirus medical workers.

The project sees the interior walls and ceilings of a church in China’s Hubei province – where the epidemic began – transformed into a large mural depicting figures dressed in white decontamination suits.

The project takes inspiration from the historic style of church painting and fresco. However, instead of illustrating biblical scenes of saints or deities, the mural shows the everyday medical workers who are selflessly putting themselves at the frontline of the virus, covered by masks, gloves and full-body suits.

Pandemic drives us to focus more on the essential parts of life, the city gradually became quiet, and the spatial architecture faded quickly. But we often hear clear song of birds, and we have more opportunities and time to get alone with ourselves.

Philippines artist Vermont Coronel Jr. was told me that everyone and everything was and is affected by the pandemic. Being restricted for health, practical, and mandated reasons, he is not able to explore places like he used to. Going out for necessities means traveling from point to point with the urgency of going back home as soon as possible. He turns his attention to expanding the series on plants. Growing up in an old house in Sta. Rosa with lush and varied flora, he cares for and nurture collection of plants in the city, dispersed in the small balcony and a small spot in his building’s communal rooftop. When shifted as art subjects, he discovers more details in the plants in the paper-cutting process. He is acquainted once more with the vegetation that he watches grow.”

In Singapore, where space is limited, parks such as Chinese Garden serve as a sanctuary for various communities to enjoy each other’s company. In Singapore artist Khairullah Rahim’s “next Sunday” project, communal parks are spaces of quiet potential, charged with metaphorical and symbolic meanings. Every Sunday, recreational activities such as picnics by the lake and the spectating of cricket matches on the expansive fields, transform this otherwise idyllic space into a unique microcosm.

Referencing the hit Malay pop song during the 90s, ‘Memori Daun Pisang’ (Memories of Banana Leaf), next Sunday intends to elicit this peculiar, yet romanticised notion of the park, as both a site of longing and belonging.

It is no doubt that Nature taught our mentality being more decent. Will we become more civilized or cruel when the virtual world has established a connection with the real world? In the exhibition “Life dimension in art,” the audiences can see the attitude of Asian artists to the epidemic situation and continuously understand the value of art and universal spirit. Even if we are not on-site, we will never abandon art.

In Taiwanese artist group Y2K works, they focus on what if humans and plants could feel each other’s feelings, could it change the relationship between humans and plants?

“SYN-THESASIA” symbolizes the bridge between human and plant. The communication is similar to the concept that humans have the characteristic of “mirror synesthesia” to each other. As the leaf cushion is connected to the human muscle system, trace movement of the leaf can be detected and transferred to human muscle. The moment the mimosa is stimulated, humans can feel the tactile and pain from the plant, and the arm will respond like the mimosa, conversely, when a person’s hand is hit, the connected mimosa will be stimulated. We hope to raise awareness of the sentience of plants by making humans see from a plant’s perspective and feel what it feels, moreover, creating empathy between different species.

Macao artist Cheong Kin Man, he took video work “The Etymology of a Dream.” as the metaphor of mentality. The will to reach an origine of whatsoever has been always a problematic, in not a too much hierarchal act, but the only remedy to the present problems would be to find their symptoms. By deconstructing some emotionally intimate images and by letting them be reconstructed as they were in a dream, the etymological style quest may offer a solution, in order to save a temporally dying imagination.

Do you still remember what you were doing during the Chinese New Year in 2020? Were you on the way back home for Lunar New Year? Reunion with family? Or drinking and laughing with friends? Remember where you were? New York, Munich, Bangkok, Tokyo, Singapore, Taipei, Hong Kong, Shanghai, or Wuhan? When the memory back, time went fast, and it seemed like a dream last night. Today, you and I may have turned several bends on the crossroads of life. Are we kinder to one another today? Have we become more concerned about one another? I hope that whether in the past or future, you and I will be accompanied by art. Ultimately, we may become better humans towards one another, our planet and the splendor in life.

Yipei Lee

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Poznań Art Week

PAW is an art festival inaugurated in 2017 in the capital of Wielkopolska in order to create a joint cultural program of public and private institutions operating in the field of visual arts.

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