BITE #2 – Duan Shiyu
GAZE OF OPPOSITES
Contemporary Bites Archive
Bite #2 by DUAN SHIYU
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE US TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?
I was born in Jiaxing, China in 1992. I currently work and live in The Netherlands and China.
I am a multi-disciplinary artist who observe the everyday and extract the wondering. I present works embodying discourse around the theme of self-awareness and the vulnerability of human being. I believe that, as long as people live in this world, the life activity of human being is a long-term consumption. It is a process that requires you to consume labour, energy and sprit to maintain the desire to continue to explore. No matter what gender and profession, living for everyone is a long-lasting, turbulent movement. People always feel forceless when we dealing with it. The main concern of my work is to perceive the position of the self and the external world in a poetic way and to show the sense of forceless in order to obtain new strength. It will not be the strength of “how to solve a problem”, the strength of “I know what state I am in” — the strength of self-awareness.
These paintings <Gazes of Opposites> were created during February 2020. At that time, China was in a state where people did not go out and self-quarantine at home. Because I had an exhibition in the Netherlands at the end of February, so I went to the Netherlands on 1st of February. On account of social morality, I did self-quarantine for ten days in my Dutch residence in case I am infected Covid-19 in China. Therefore my life was in sync with most Chinese people. I am surrounded by Covid-19 news everyday, whether it’s official media or other media platforms.
Because of the intensive immersion in the news, my mood fluctuates greatly with those information. Moreover, most of time I couldn’t distinguish which news is true and which one is false, it makes me feel even more upset. And I couldn’t do art at first, because when I think of a lot of people dying from this virus, I feel that many things lose their meaning in the face of life and death. But I got better after ending my quarantine and returning to normal life. At the same time, I also forced myself to reduce the time that spent watching news, which prevent me from psychological trauma.
During that period, incidents caused by Covid-19 brought Chinese people to notice, such as whether government information is open and transparent, whether society’s shaping of medical staff’s sacrifices into heroes is a failure of the medical system, and so on. These issues have caused conflicts between citizens and governments, older generations and newer generations, individuals and families, people who blindly defends the honor of the nation and pragmatic critics, and cyber citizens in different camps. But as conflicts occur, people ’s awareness of these issues also increases, and there is more understanding between people. Therefore, the two face-to-face people in my paintings are not in a constant state of opposition. I want to show the fluidity of this antagonistic relationship in this particular state.
HOW DID THE COVID-19 BREAKDOWN AFFECT YOUR WORK AS AN ARTIST?
Many of my performances involve physical contact with people. In the current epidemic situation, we need to keep certain distance with each other, which also means that I cannot rehearse my ideas. I imagine all the ideas in my mind, and I will implement them after COVID-19 is effectively controlled.
HAS YOUR WAY OF THINKING/PRODUCING ART CHANGED? IN WHAT WAY?
I don’t think my way of producing art has changed much. The only difference is that my actions now lag behind my thoughts.