嘉年华 Angels Wears White

 

This Chinese movie Angels Wears White was released in 2017. The original name is 嘉年华 which means “Carnival”. But there was no sign of excitement or revelry in the whole film. The story took place in one seaside resort, there has a statue of Marilyn Monroe was erected on the beach by the sea. In the movie, the statue is a symptom of a hopelessly corrupt, sexist society.

 

The director Wen Yan chose to tell the story from a third perspective, it's a kind of bystander position, the whole movie is extremely restrained. This "restraint" is very clear;there is no direct representation of the process of sexually assaulting the little girl, and the victims did not show the drastic emotional change.

 

This movie does not only describe the social problem of children being sexually assaulted, but also reflect the survival problems of minors from divorced families and domestic violence. As the parents of the victim, Wen’s mother accused her of wearing inappropriate clothes after she was sexually assaulted.

In fact, one of the main reasons for the tragedy is because lack of family care. Parents did not guide the young girls properly. It is worth mentioning that the director  created the film from her female perspective. It actually covers the experience of women of different ages and occupations, for example, the female lawyer who is unfailingly courteous and possessed of a disciplined work ethic.

 

On the contrary, most of the male characters are abusers or cowards. This is a phenomenon worth exploring and interesting, child sexual abuse is one of the theme that the director try to put on the screen, her aim is to let the audience to think about the gender difference, hierarchy and social justice. 

Carey Young
Everything You've Heard is Wrong, 1999

Carey Young is a visual artist, working primarily with video and photography for her installations. Her creative inspiration comes from economics, law, politics, science and communication. Through the artworks, Young’s research interests are including legal theory, especially critical legal theory relating to human rights, and architectures of law (such as courts, prisons, law offices etc). She raises the question of the unifying power of the legal system, applied in a playful way, and highlight the legal gap between ambiguity and subjectivity. 

The artist examines law as a conceptual and abstract space, power and authority are expressed through different forms of performance and language. Young’s practice is research based and interdisciplinary, often involving collaborations with professionals from other fields, including lawyers, legal academics, scientists and communication skills trainers. She used various media to explore the relationship between body, voice, rhetoric, and power systems.

For example, in the video “I am a Revolutionary”, she was undergoing a presentation skills training session with her own personal trainer. In this video, Young was wearing a business suit and dressed like a merchant or politician. She seemed having a lot of trouble with the line “I am a revolutionary,” which she recites again and again. ‘I am a revolutionary’ she repeated it many times, weary but determined to better her delivery. As an artist, she can’t quite bring herself to believe in either that avant-garde or political utopia. 

To a certain extent, I think Young’s work combine the sensibility of art and the rationality of law. Even though she brought the real side to the audience, when art gets involved in politics, is the purpose of art still pure? In my opinion, art is inevitably influenced by politics, as well as philosophy and natural sciences. Artists are trying to promote politics through art forms, whether approved or opposed.

I am a Revolutionary, 2001

​鲁迅 Lu Xun

Lu Xun has been considered China's greatest modern writer for most of the 20th century. His work promoted radical change through criticism of antiquated cultural values and repressive social customs. Chinese students learn Lu Xun’s articles when they are in junior high school, but at that moment, they thought they were studying the history during the republican period.

In fact, Lu Xun’s articles are explicate the fact. He penetrates reader’s heart with his thoughts and words. Lu Xun’s greatness is his ability to awaken the senses of people into knowing what the current state of the living environment is, are important as it catches the attention and possibly diverts the efforts of people into making relevant changes. In his hands, his article criticized the feudal society, formalism and bureaucratism.

For some, Lu Xun’s article has the limitations of the time. But in fact he seems to be writing about the era, he is actually writing about humanity and human nature. For example, he said, “As a nation, Chinese people like to compromise and mediate. For example, If you say, the room is too dark and we need to open a window, people will definitely not approve. But if you propose to remove the roof, they will begin to mediate. Then, everyone will agree to open a window.” This quote is very universal, it describes the temperament of the Chinese.

 

Another example is “Previously, I thought that people were executed or jailed because they are guilty. Now I know that many people commit crimes because they were already judged to be evil.” How to define good and evil in this world?There is no perfect law in the world. For Lu Xun, he is the one who marching in the dark with a torch. The most valuable thing he left to the world is not to criticize the current situation, but to give us a heart to distinguish between right and wrong.

Teresa Margolles

Teresa Margolles is a Mexican conceptual artist, she examines the social causes and consequences of death, destruction and civil war. The works all show the complexity of contemporary society, especially the destruction in Mexico. The work of Margolles has been known for confronting violence, death and loss from a provocative and overwhelming posture, and also for using human remains as artistic material.

 

Her installation YA BASTA HIJOS DE PUTA  is filled with "minimalistic tones and silences", it helps to convey the meaning of the work more accurately. The artist discusses the issues of death, social injustice, gender hatred and marginality in the local environment in Mexico. In Vaporization (Vaporización, 2002), she fills the gallery space with a foggy mist created from the morgue sheets and these sheets are used to wrap the murder victims in the Mexico City. It's very similar to Olafur Eliasson’s style at first sight, but when audience is immersed in the frog, water vapor seems to slide across one’s skin and clothes with violence, indifference and sexism. When people actually walk through it, they can truly experience the feeling of facing death. 

Teresa Margolles Vaporización, 2002

As a comparison, Olafur Eliasson's Din Blinde Passager is mainly focused on nature and environment. His installation keeps the viewer entranced, he uses natural elements such as water, light and mist to draw audiences' attention on social and environmental issues.

Although these two works have very different themes, but they all believe art has a crucial role to play in the public discourse. Through the arts, people can see the fragility of humanity and coexistence of man and nature reflect the artist's ultimate care for human destiny and philosophical view on history and reality.

Olafur Eliasson Din Blinde Passager, 2010
Francis Alys
The Green Line, 2004
El Ensayo, 1999-2001

​Francis Alys is a contemporary artist whose multidisciplinary practice focuses on everyday life and  politicized situations. Around the theme of human politics, the following two works are directly related to political boundaries.

 

Alÿs released an action in São Paolo called The Green Line in which he walked from a gallery, around the city with an open can of green paint. The walk along the “green line” and draw the green line, and then read as a poetic gesture of sorts. "Leaking" paint without a clear destination can be regarded as an unrealistic poetic act, however, this move also have a strong political significance in this specific locations and occasions. Simple and abrupt, eliminate all unnecessary forms, and to think about its implication.

 

Alys‘s work can be interpreted from many different perspectives, it can even be said that the vitality of his works is also enriched in multi-level thinking.

 

For example, El Ensayo shows a red VW Beetle driving up a hill, the driver was listening to a recording of the rehearsal and practiced climbing on a small dirt slope. Several attempts over the hillside, but none succeeded. Behind this car is the slums of Tijuana, Alys’s special experience from the developed world to the third world made him aware of the injustice of the world. 

 

He recalls, “the Latin American scenario in which modernity is always delayed.” The boundaries defined by humans are not just physical  land, it also divides social resources, educational resources, social institutions and etc. He starts with the proposition of politics, but his message goes far beyond politics. Francis Alys is like a contemporary Sisyphus, he presents his understanding and resistance to the world in a ridiculously romantic way.