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God of the Soil and the Ground

2022, Installation, HD video, 9’45, single channel,Plaster, Paper, Plastic Sheet, Size Variable

Consisting of sculptures and video, God of the Soil and the Ground reimagines an alternative original history to replace the authoritarian narration of the past, by questioning and resisting authorities’ oppression of the people during the transition from feudalism to capitalism. It case studied Kucha ruins, Yuanmingyuan Palace, and the Great Wall of China, and explores the historical oppression and social degradation of humankind by authority. By creating a courtyard space, the work invites the viewers as participators to inhabit the place where truth for the future can be imagined. 

In the projection, a figure of a woman who owns the potential to alter reality is created to haunt and disrupt the authoritarian narration of the past. The woman chose to suicide in the ruins, where the ruin of Kucha and Yuanmingyuan Palace made a connection transgressing the time due to their similar fate. She visioned her spirit transforming into a traditionally Chinese character, the God of the Soil and the Ground. Through death, her body made a connection with the earth in this violent incident and escaped linear time by denying the idea of time. Before the woman’s death, she remained the role of a conventional woman in feudal China, holding a pounding stick in her hand, in order to restore the fabric of clothes by striking. After her transformation or awakening, it is to be seen as a repetition of the past—she is still pounding the stick, but to destroy the Great Wall of China with her power. The power of the pounding stick is dismantled and overturned by the re-controlling of individual power in resisting authoritarianism. 

Our body is a receptacle of powers, capacities and resistances. The historic social systems oppress our bodies in form of the law and regulations. The resistance of a body to exploitation is represented through its supernatural link between the physical and spiritual world. The history of humans is thus reconstructed through the body. In twelve casts, arms are seemingly raised from the ground with gigantic energy. These arms of the namelessness appear to reveal themselves in our world and return themselves from the repressed. In the projection, the body creates a field for reincarnation to happen, transforming finite life into an imaginative infinite being. The woman’s body appears to be as huge as a giant who is overlooking the viewers. Susan Stewart, in her book On Longing Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection, described the giant as “a violator of boundary and rule; an overabundance of the natural and hence an affront to cultural systems”. On the paper sheet, pages of the book Five Thousand Years of Chinese Nation, a representation of authoritarian history, were torn and rearranged. The paper sheet was left on the ground with a transparent plastic sheet with an image of Yuanmingyuan Palace printed on it. The image signifies that the past is similar to the palace itself, which suffered from alteration of its meaning in commercialization and transformed into a conventional wonder. 

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