Visited the Wutongshan Culture Highland with friends, Jonathan and Gigi; resident artist director, Ryan Mitchell showed us the site. Of note, Zhao Shaoruo’s (赵少若) solipsistic exhibition in which he appears as every character in every painting and image. In addition to pieces in which he has substituted his face for Mao’s, Zhao has also produced work in the name of a variety of others, ranging traditional Chinese through Jews to insects. Telling, the only time that others appear in Zhao’s work, they do so as an extreme end of a continuum in which Zhao’s features are blended with his other.
Solipsists argue that the idea that only one’s own mind exists, that knowledge outside one’s own mind is unsure, or that only one’s own mind exists. Zhao’s relentless substituting his own face for those of others reminds us that extreme forms of solipsism are brutally pathological; I exist therefore you cannot. Continue reading
The title of this post shouts “academic theorization”, but in fact, the post itself is far less ambitious. I’m simply speculating about what conditions we need to put in place in order to cultivate cross cultural discourse in and about places with vexed histories, like Wutong Mountain, Shenzhen.
Creating models and forums for cross cultural discussions in and about places with vexed histories is difficult. On the one hand, most of us are not familiar with the values and concerns that inform the ethos of another people; indeed, even when we are relatively knowledgable about cross cultural differences, often we do not share our interlocutor’s priorities. On the other hand, cultural groups are not monolithic entities, but rather vexed by class, gender, and regional differences, creating what Bhaktin called “heteroglossia” – a situation in which context (including history and culture and politics and economy and one’s interlocutor) is more important in determining the meaning of an utterance than is the text.
With the Wutongshan Arts Festival (梧桐山艺术节 – impressions above), organizers Gigi Leung and Michael Patte (founders of the riptide collective) aimed to generate conversations between village residents, local businesses (including Canyou), and artists who have moved there. The situation was clearly heteroglossic with both foreign and Chinese participants, who represented a range of different class backgrounds as well as different relationships to and with Wutong Mountain as well as Shenzhen. We came together to discuss future development in and of Wutong Mountain. Continue reading