Ting-Ju Shao: Life Unmanifested
Along with the work ‘The Ego of- The Battle of Mind’, part of the group exhibition ‘Desire’, Belger Arts Center, Kansas City, on view through May 21, 2016, the solo show ‘Life Unmanifested’ by Taiwanese artist Ting-Ju Shao (featured), hosted in March 2016 by Kei-Fu Gallery in Kyoto, Japan, presents the human evolution in two thought-provoking installations.
Ceramic children figures form conflicting groups – one guided by the ego and the lust for power symbolized in the Nazi salute, the other sculpted in a state of deep meditation, not in fear or intimidated by the imminent confrontation. According to the artist: “In About the Egos of – The Battle of Mind, crowned boys in uniform stood in V formation on the red pedestals, as an implication of the desire for power, the blood-red battle of the mind. They, who follow the endless command by their ego longing, chase blindly and anxiously for insatiable desires with stream flow confusion.” Before them, “in Life Unmanifested – I am Here. Here I am, the boys meditating with closed eyes are at peace with themselves in the moments they slowly tilt their heads. Their introspection and meditation reunite them with their inner self, and reestablish their ties with human peace that have been lost for generations.” There is an interesting contrast in the display of the artworks in V, which highlights the idea of hierarchy and different levels of power, opposed to the circle, where all are equal and without the uniforms and tiny crowns, acting as they feel, not as they are told, in a natural and conscious manner, not to achieve an illusive goal.
“Our minds have been relentlessly conditioned by the human experiences accumulated over generations. Before Hitler became a dictator, he might have been an ordinary person like you and me. When our id is allowed to expand immeasurably to devour our ego, and incessantly prompt us to fulfill its insatiable desires, it may result in individual unease and discontent, and even sufferings of us and others,” adds Ting-Ju Shao.
The artist explains her choice for ceramic: “For the last thirty years, I have been making figures with the ancient, traditional medium of ceramic clay to denote the age-old, inherent connection between humans and the earth, the strong and fragile sides of humanity, and to explore and remind one to continually resume the process of spiritual evolution.” The child like characters are also not chosen by chance: “As a symbol of the innocent origin of humanity, the fine texture of porcelain is as immaculate as children. Plaster molds and casts signify the bright side of humanity, and the conditions circumscribing all egos.” In the end, life is defined by each choice and every path we claim as ours inevitably intersects with other journeys, and the moment of intersection may be of shared knowledge and support, or a collision of interests and demands that erases any trace of a potential relationship and growth, a cause of hatred, separation and alienation.
‘Life Unmanifested – I am Here. Here I am.’ / 2016
‘About the Egos of – The Battle of Mind’ / 2016
‘The Ego of- The Battle of Mind’, 2016, 58hx50x20 cm / Part of 2016 NCECA, ‘Desire’, Belger Arts Center, Kansas City, U.S.A. (organizer- Linda Lighton), February 5 – May 21, 2016.
Images © Ting-Ju Shao