Is the world going to be destroyed by war or by mankind? To find out, Taiwanese artists Lai Shi-chao (賴士超) and Chiu Chih-chun (邱智群) will stage an installation titled "Shan Hai Jing" at the Taichung-based National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts from May 11 through July 14.
The classic Chinese text of "Shan Hai Jing (山海經)," or "The Classic of Mountains and Seas," is a fabulous compilation of mythic geography and magical creatures. It can also be viewed as an exploration of human societies during the pre-Qin era and their views of the world.
Identifying as the descendants of these early civilizations, featured artists Lai and Chiu hope to explore how generations since then have been impacted by the text's profound structure and symbolism, especially as interpretations continue to differ with the shifting of times.
Moreover, has anything new risen from it? What formats and boundaries are observed in the politics, myths, rituals, and desires outlined by "Shan Hai Jing"? Humanity's intent has always been to create an unprecedented utopia, but what kind of world would that be?
In their joint statement, the artists have stated that "living on this island nation, we've transitioned from being educated by political institution to a society that is free and open. This disoriented sense of ethnic identity and the Chinese cultural aesthetics are associated with post-orientalism, post-Asia, or simply a sense of déjà vu for an existence that only exists on the island."
"From the land to the sea and from the universe to the cyber space, mankind has never halted our primal instinct to explore and ________," continued the statement. Therefore, by using their personal rhetoric and world view, Lai and Chiu sought to reinterpret and create a contemporary utopia under the "Shan Hai Jing" framework.
‘Shan Hai Jing’ featuring Lai Shi-chao and Chiu Chih-chun