Curators:  Feng-yi CHU  &  Ashmina RANJIT

ArtistsJui-lan YAO, Siddhanta PUDASAINI, Tehreem HASSAN, Sean WANG

Time:  24th August — 4th September, 2019  /  Venue:  NexUs Culture Nepal, Kathmandu, Nepal

Poster design: Siddhanta Pudasaini  /  Photo credit: Sean Wang  &  Mekh Limbu

Curator's Note

Artists' Statements

Artists' Statements

Jui-lan YAO

In classical theories of social science, religion is often regarded as the opposite of modernity. Not only Max Weber draws on the idea of “disenchantment” to describe the cultural rationalization and devaluation of religion in the modern era, but theorists like Larry Shiner and Émile Durkheim also adopt the concept of “secularization”, arguing that religion has been loosing its power on the political, economic, and cultural realms in modern societies. These descriptions are not entirely true, since one can easily find many counter examples of how religions and pre-modern traditions still exercise their significant influence on collective politics and individual behaviors nowadays—not only in developing regions, such as South Asia, Central Asia, and Arabian Peninsula, but also in relatively developed countries, such as the America and South Korea, particularly when the enormous obstacles to gender equality and LGBT rights posed by religious fundamentalists and conservatives are concerned.

Indeed, the role of religion in the contemporary world is shifting, but its ancient technique of “bio-politics” (in Foucault’s notion) has been well preserved under the cover of the disguised renouncement of religion—the technique of “sanctification.” Being defined as a process of making holy, sacred, blessed, and purified, this idea inevitably involves a dualistic structure. When one object, one idea, or one category of human beings is deemed as sacred, pure, auspicious, and superior, there are always counter parts considered as sinful, cursed, inauspicious, and inferior. With this dualistic division, the operation of sanctification determines what should be praised and what should be despised; what should be worshiped and what should be condemned; whom should be honored and whom should be exploited. It is a technique of politics, a technique of governance and management, a technique of dominance, a technique of exploitation. It forges and shapes a society’s evaluative system, aesthetic, and morality at the macro level, and it also determines an individual’s belief, value, and identity at the micro level. 

 

Four artists from three different regions, with their own life experiences and observations, lay their focus on the idea of sanctification and create three series of art works.

The work of Taiwanese artist, Jui-lan Yao, titled "#MyPeriodMyPride Movement," documents the home-made pad workshop that was held at NexUs Culture Nepal during the artist's stay. Yao's another work, titled as “Cleanness is Next to Godliness” (video), with interviewing sound installation, "Voice of Divinity," made by Nepali artist, Siddhanta Pudasaini, compares the different concepts of cleanness and uncleanness constructed in the two societies. By juxtaposing the video images of religious worship and people’s interpretations of menstruation, the work explores the intricate relationship between individual’s body (embodied as human blood and voice) and patriarchal domination. The two artists problematize the myth of purity and impurity imposed on social image of women’s menstruation, denouncing period taboo as a social technique to govern and to oppress women. "Pakistani artist, Tehreem Hassan, creates a series of works of visual images, named “Body vs. Choices.” Her works discuss how a specific form of body aesthetic is constructed to sanctify a particular body form and thus stigmatize others, and how this operation can cause influences over individuals’ self-identities. The work of Taiwanese photographer, Sean Wang, takes nationalist identity as the main subject. Titled as “The Holy Mountain of Taiwan - Chapter 1: ROC,” his work explores how the Chinese nationalism in Taiwan sanctify the landscopes in the Chinese continent, in order to construct the sublime sentiment for Chinese identity. Here, sanctification of landscopes serves as the technique of establishing and promoting Chinese nationalist ideology in the society. 

 

Through the works of the four artists, this exhibition aims to disclose the ancient bio-politics operation of sanctification and stigmatization. By doing so, the exhibition also prompts audience for a further deliberation and reflection on the social evaluative system and the political aesthetic structure that she or he has been long informed and immersing within.  

(This exhibition is supported by Ministry of Culture of Taiwan)

「聖化的迷思:政治、美學與國族」

策展論述

當代社會裡宗教常被視為「現代性發展」的對立面。社會學家馬克斯·韋伯用「除魅」(disenchantment)的概念指出現代性裡的去神秘化、去宗教化特徵。多位學者如涂爾幹、席納爾,亦將「世俗化」(secularization)視為現代國族政治體制發展裡的重要錨點。這些古典論點忽略了宗教與社會傳統在現代社會裡仍保有相當強大的影響力;不論是在全球各社會仍然相當盛行的父權體制,或是反對及阻撓性別平權的各宗教基本教義或社會保守團體,皆是相當明顯的實際案例。

 

宗教與社會傳統教條至今仍保有如此強大影響力的原因之一,在於其並不僅以教義或組織來型塑社會團體之規範,而是更在心理層級上、以「除魅」及「世俗化」之反向操作方式,建構出一套作用於個體情感上的「聖化治理技術」(technique of sanctification)。「聖化」(sanctification)一詞的定義是「使神聖化、使潔淨」。而在實際的論述運作上,聖化及淨化必然是奠基於二元對立架構上;當某一人事物被視為神聖、被視為潔淨,則必然有相對的概念被視為罪惡、被視為汙穢。

 

這些二元架構誘使主體臣服於其所展現的價值判斷與美學政治,誘使主體尊敬、崇尚、服從被視為神聖、崇高的,並且同時合法化對那些被視為低下、不潔的人事物之宰制、歧視、控制、排除、與剝削。這樣的系統不僅在巨觀層級上強化了社會既有的宰制關係、定義社會規範及道德秩序,更在微觀的個人層級上成為民眾日常生活中時時遵從的倫理、美學標準以及處事與判斷原則。聖化治理可以說是始於前現代社會時期的、古老的、傅柯所說的生命政治技術。

本展覽中來自三個不同地區的四位藝術家,透過各自的觀察與生活經歷,不約而同地以當代聖化治理技術與政治及社會結構的關係為主題進行創作。台灣藝術家 姚睿蘭 的作品「Cleanness is Next to Godliness」(2019),對比其在台灣與尼泊爾分別所觀察到的、不同的潔淨及汙穢的文化建構概念。該作品與尼泊爾藝術家 Siddhanta Pudasaini 的聲音裝置「Voice of Divinity」(2019)併置,藉由其與長輩親人們相互討論尼泊爾社會裡月經禁忌的訪談,進一步探討該父權體系如何將女性月經汙名化、穢化,並藉由歧視性的對待對女性進行社會宰制。 來自巴基斯坦的藝術家 Tehreem Hassan,以其多圖層的平面創作作品「Body vs. Choices」(2019),則探討被社會建構的身體美學標準,如何美化特定型態身體、醜化其他型態的身體,並進而影響個人的自我認同型塑。台灣攝影師 汪正翔 的作品「台灣聖山」(2019),則以台灣的國族認同為主題,討論在台灣的中國國族主義如何藉以聖化中國地景(喜瑪拉雅山),建構出中國認同的崇高感,並以此為建構及推廣中國人認同的技術。

藉由此四位藝術家的作品,本展覽呈現聖化與汙化這個古老的生命政治技術在現代社會裡的運作機制,並促使觀眾進一步省思自身所處的社會結構與價值評判體系。

(本展覽屬 2019 水谷藝術 Waley Art 邊陲人台灣與尼泊爾鄉憂系列計畫,為台灣文化部支持與指導。)

Jui-lan YAO, "Cleanness is Next to Godliness"
Single Channel Video, 10'56" (3 chapters).

Jui-lan YAO, "#MyPeriodMyPride Movement"
Print on transparent sheet (120 x 50 cm)

Siddhanta PUDASAINI, "Voice of Divinity"
Sound installation (3'00)

Tehreem HASSAN, "Body VS Choices"
Digital illustration print on canvas  (42 x 29.7 cm)

Sean WANG, "The Holy Mountain of Taiwan / Chapter 1: R.O.C"
One framed picture (40 x100 cm) and one installation