Is Barbarism With a Human Face Our Fate? | 
戴着人类面孔的野蛮主义是我们的宿命吗?

“More than open barbarism I fear barbarism with a human face- ruthless survivalist measures enforced with regret and even sympathy but legitimized by expert opinions.” - Slavoj Zizek

 

“Our knowledge has made us cynical

Our cleverness, hard and unkind

We think too much, and feel too little

More than machinery, we need humanity

More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness

Without these qualities, life will be violent, and all will be lost”

--Charlie Chaplin

 

During the Covid-19 global pandemic, nations around the world started to operate in survival mode. Racism, nationalism, flight restrictions, refusing to share vaccine studies, all elevated to sensationalist proportions. Nations are closing borders, trade, commerce, and people are turning inward and against each other, unconsciously taking cruel and selfish stands, and claiming themselves as “rational.”  What are the consequences of these decisions? The problem is not about what decision is right, but about the neglected cost when we are taking over the power to make the decisions for everyone, for “the greater good.” Does being rational equal being humane? What goes after and beyond the abstract theories?  Is Barbarism With a Human Face Our fate?

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This series begins with “The Choker Book,” which explores how books and knowledge come against us. When wearing this book as a choker, the pages turn outward. In this way, instead of serving as an object with reading functions, it becomes unreadable bondage, broadcasting blurry words to the audience. Currently, our knowledge turns inward as reflections, or goes outward as fences, which defend us and seize us at the same time.

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The Choker Book | 项圈书

Photo-Transfered Artist’s Book

6 ½”x5”x3”

2020

“The Ear Plug Book” discusses a similar topic: uncanny knowledge. The process of wearing “The Ear Plug Book” imitates the process of stuffing knowledge into our ears and our brains. Stuffing is also blocking. The more you let the knowledge flow out of your ears, the more space you have for receiving.

The Ear Plug Book | 耳塞书

Photo-Transfered Artist’s Book

1.37”x1.37”x0.7”

2021

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“The Book of Nonsense” showcases the fragility of knowledge and rationality. The words on the pages are manipulated in a way that the text is reversed, blurred, and overlapping-- unreadable. The paper for the pages is made from bread, which turns the permanent material impermanent. The book is bound in a way that it is perceived as a typical book structure, but the signatures will scatter during unfolding. 

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The Book of Nonsense | 满纸荒唐言

Photo-Transfered Artist’s Book with Handmade Bread Paper

8 ½ ”x 5 ½” ½”

2021

The series ends with “Is Barbarism With a Human Face Our Fate?” which is a series of photo-transferred human masks. The artist collected scans of human faces from people all over the world and made them into masks. By making and wearing them, the artist throws out a question: as we are wearing these decomposed faces of humane, are we truly being humane, or only hiding our barbarism?

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 Is Barbarism With a Human Face Our Fate? |

​戴着人类面孔的野蛮主义是我们的宿命吗?

14”x 9 ½ ” (each mask)

Photo-transferred on Handmade paper

2021

 

Special Thanks to:

Xing Bao, Ao Bones, Benita Guo, Joy Li, Yuchae Lee, Rosa Luo, Emi Sun, Serhii Surepin, Ashling Tu, Ritter Zhang, Yiting Zhou

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Reasonable obsession is dangerous. True reason is not the opposite of sense. In fact, true reason requires the ability to feel, to empathize, to truly understand that helpless moments and questioning is universal and part of human existence that we all experience.