May You Live 10,000 Years

  • May You Live 10,000 Years
    2017
    Mixed Material

        I am intrigued by the omnipresence of symbols and the way they produce meaning in contemporary society. This work stems from my recent interest in Chinese propaganda posters produced during the late 20th century. I had been making small prints and thinking about the role that traditionally figurative sculpture plays in art history, and I began thinking about how these figures and other decorative elements in the posters would be contextualized outside of China.
        For this specific work, I was inspired by a poster depicting a group of primary school kids playing band, lighting lanterns, and holding a giant peach to wish chairman Mao a long life. In the poster, Chairman Mao represents communist power in China. I was impressed by the unrealistic size of the peach, which is bigger than the kid. I made the girl into a statue and altered the image by building her head into the giant peach to create a physical relationship between the audience and the sculpture. On the one hand, the girl is grotesque and faceless, so the audience cannot identify her. But on the other hand, the peach could be her face or could be something coming out of her heart and going back to her head. This reminds me of those workers who dress up as cartoon characters and take pictures with tourists on the streets in NYC or Disneyland. In Chinese culture, the peach represents vitality and longevity. However, it could also be read as a body part and representation of femininity in other circumstances. Regarding idioms, in Chinese, we call someone who enjoys bragging about others as “Pai Ma Pi” (slapping a horse’s butt), which translates, in English, as sucking up to someone.

        我对无所不在的符号和它们在当代社会中产生意义的方式很感兴趣。这家作品源于我最近对20世纪后期制作的中国宣传海报产生的兴趣。我一直在制作小版画,并思考传统雕塑在艺术史中扮演的角色,考虑这些海报中的人物和其他装饰元素如何在中国境外的语境下被理解。
        对于这个作品,我的灵感来自一幅海报,描绘了一群小学生点灯笼,拿着不同的礼物毛主席祝寿。其中一个小女孩拿了一个大桃子。桃子不切实际的大小给我留下了深刻的印象,它比孩子还大。我把这个女孩变成了一尊雕像,并通过将头伸进巨大的桃子中来改变她整体的形象,从而在观众与雕塑之间建立了一种物质关系。一方面,这个女孩是怪诞而不露面的,所以观众不能识别她。但另一方面,桃子可能是她的脸,或者可能是她心中的东西,并回到她的头上。这让我想起那些在纽约时代广场上打扮成迪士尼卡通人物和街头游客拍照的人。在中国文化中,桃子代表着生命力和长寿。但是,在其他情况下或者在西方语境下,它也可以被看作是身体部位和女性特征的表现。