2021 Huayu Youth Award Exhibition
In a 2017 interview, I claimed “Gestalt” to be the core notion for my curatorial practice. I drew this notion from my university studies of Merleau-Ponty’s Gestalt psychology, which generally reconciled the dichotomy between nature and consciousness, or rather, the contradiction between rationalism and empiricism. In the history of Western philosophy, this contradiction is deeply rooted, ranging from what Sartre called an sich and für sich, to Descartes’ notions of “mind” and “matter,” all addressing the contradictory duality, whose origin can be traced to an even earlier time. When I talk about the “gestalt,” I am appropriating it in a specific or vulgar way once I’ve defined the scope of the contemporary art industry. I’ve witnessed the rift between the artist’s practice and the presentation of one’s works, so my impulse has been mending or dissolving it. I imagine the ideal would be a kind of unity of the artist’s practice and his state of mind and body, which complement and complete each other without interference from the outside world; on the other hand, exhibition and writing, too, should play a similar role, to parallel and echo the work of art, without each speaking its language.
This method works provided that one has the time to get to know an artist over an extended period. About his experiences of growing up, life habits, quirks in his practice, the emojis he/she likes to use, etc., were one to get to know a person extensively, collect such fragmented information, one would always find one or two sets of clues to solve the problem. Over time, I gradually realized that perhaps art does not reside entirely in a painting, video, or sculpture. Art revolves around the pieces of information worth capturing, and the work is divided into these pieces, and so is the artist’s life. My job is to confirm the general appearance of this very artistic information by comparing the two sides and then maximizing artistic practice’s potential by choreographing the exhibition’s twists and turns. In the meantime, the phases of confirmation and stimulation alternate. During this pandemic, such a working method was the luxury to prepare for an exhibition that demanded the utmost efficiency.
When I was planning “The Perfect Flaw,” with the organizer’s assistance, I invited 20 artists/groups to meet within one week. Eighteen of them/groups met with me via Tencent conference for an hour or so. During such time, I could sense the vivid stories in their life experiences, and I realized if I could follow their paths for an extended period and wait for an opportunity to capture the stories, their profiles would be more affluent and rounded. As with my working with them, this exhibition has just marked the beginning, and one that shortens the long process of the gestalt that I had aspired to, and perhaps there lies a new opportunity – I get the sense that in such a busy and transient time, the gestalt is omnipresent, while realizing the crevasse might be rare. I titled this exhibition “The Perfect Flaw” to point out “no matter how urgent the demand for perfection is, cracks are inevitable”; it can also be interpreted as “the necessity of flaws shapes perfection.”
Even so, I hope the exhibition comes together as a whole. Many of the artists’ works relate to water, so I tried to use the relationship between people and water as a vague clue for the exhibition with these coincidental imageries. The exhibition route branched off from the changing room by the pool into two lanes, diffusing with coral, buoys, sunrise, and sunset at the horizon and continuing to a reef-like end of the coast. The reef could also be clustered clouds or a cavalcade of buildings along the street. Interesting associations can, at best, provoke a diversion in the viewer’s visual mind when perusing through the artworks but cannot encapsulate the common essence of the artist’s work.
We are living in the posterity of the post-modern, where the world oscillates between openness and closure, certainty and delusion, and where various ways of perception and visual elements have blended, and to sort out the context of an individual is perhaps against the characteristics of this era in the first place. If we consider the search for “common essence” as a presupposition for curating exhibitions or the result of striving for the “gestalt,” would that then become an attempt to conceal reality? Would it be a lack of courage to face the chaotic aspects of the world by seeking harmony, completeness, and perfection within the scope of our vision? Is the “art” prevalent today complicit in this cover-up? Once a year, the Huayu Youth Award is highly anticipated because it brings together those young people who, in the peaceful silence, hear the sound from the crevasses of the world bursting in the dark corners. For which, they may be anxious and restless or poised and at ease. But they are lovely, nevertheless. They play with all kinds of language, trying to make others hear what they’ve heard. In the end, what they offer is the reality they perceived. If the sound of bursting echoes, it would be the signal that the cover-up is about to be revealed.