"Life Unmanifested" by Ting Ju Shao
ARTIST STATEMENT "Life Unmanifested"
For me, art is not about objects of high monetary exchange, its about reasserting our firsthand experience in present time”-Antony Gormley
As indicated by scientific research, humans had developed mental capacity as early as fifty thousand years. They created artworks, such as cave paintings, contemplated the meaning of existence, or made ceramic figures to relate themselves to the unknown cosmos. 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.
“About the Egos of – The Battle of Mind”: While the 2014 series Children Meditating with Closed Eyes is a record of an individual seeking internal peace, the 2016 works are an inquiry into the collective evolution of human life and the limitation of established experiences.
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.
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.
In “Life Unmanifested – I am Here. Here I am,” the boys meditating with closed eyes on white pedestals symbolize the eternity of zero and infinity. Each of them is 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.
Through constant reflection and awareness, “About the Egos of – The Battle of Mind,” together with "I am Here. Here I am," act as a double reminder to our conscience by revealing the collective anxiety of this generation with constrained egos, and contemplating the stillness in every present moment.
As a symbol of the innocent origin of humanity, the fine texture of clay is as immaculate as children. Plaster molds and casts signify the bright side of humanity, and the conditions circumscribing all egos.
「We are not moving toward some kind of goal, we are at the goal, and it is changing with us. If art has any purpose, it is to open our eyes to the fact.」-John Cage.
「未顯化的生命- I am Here. Here I am」，各自微微轉動頭部的閉眼冥想男孩站在圓形的白色台座，象徵零與無限的永恆，每ㄧ位頭部緩緩移動的瞬間，身心ㄧㄧ安在於每個當下，透過當下的默觀寂照，與原存在內在的本體再度相遇，重連世世代代已失聯的平安。透過這兩個相對面，作為對我們的良知的提醒與反思。
TING JU SHAO
(See English version following the Chinese version)
「What’s wrong?」 一作中10 具翻模的白色人塑群體，「檢視」隊伍中最後ㄧ位自由在仰望天際「與眾不同」的紅色人塑。「翻模的白色人塑」象徵當今世界強權的龐大勢力，不斷壓擠少數族群與所有獨立自主的生命體系，企圖以政治、經濟與流行文化強勢引導或「同化」所有的「異種」．當今世界強勢的價值，卻是向宇宙自然的掠奪，與心靈世界的失聯，對生之價值的失覺。十具翻模的白色人塑與唯一的紅色人塑，這中間多數與少數的量比中，暗喻哪邊才是被「集體模化」的「物體」，哪邊才是擁有心靈自由的人類。
2006年於日本發表的「21世紀所有的頭銜都可炒作販售，唯有自由的心靈無價」，以石膏模具翻製ㄧ群白色陶偶，這些白色陶偶頭戴金色皇冠，胸口正前方標示著商業銷售條碼，頭朝前方集體舉步往前邁步，白色人偶的最前方，站立著ㄧ位仰望天空的手捏暗紅色人偶，此人偶的肩上停留著ㄧ隻小鳥。以模具量化的概念， 象徵工廠生產線上製造的規格化與統一性， 代表著失去獨特特性與思考性的族群。
ARTIST STATEMENT -TING JU SHAO
Being a participant in this universe, I have been asking the following questions ever since my younger days: "Why was I born?" and "Why am I here?" For the very reason that I am so strongly interested in our species, my work in ceramics has always used the sculpting of human figures to reflect the artist's concepts.
I recorded a single shape to explore the suffering and imprisonment of souls and bodies, as well as the desire to free the minds. Using different combinations of clay figures, I demonstrate the tension, hostility and dependence of people with their society, as with the harmonious or destructive relationship between man and nature.
In recent years, people have abused the resources in this world. A lot of damages have been done to nature, and that resulted in a lot of disasters of magnitude. This is a warning signaled by Mother Nature to us. For this very reason, the exhibition in Kyoto, Japan, 2002, was meant to be a reflection of the respective relationship between nature and us, with birds representing Mother Nature. For a bird that is manifested to 100 centimeters, and a human figure shrink to 10 centimeters, their relative ratio is a reminder for us who are the guests passing this world. The work was titled “The Seventy-Seven Gentle Warnings”, and its theme was represented by seventy-seven birds positioned in a circle around the small human figure in the middle. The number seventy-seven is taken from the bible, in which Jesus once told Peter “to forgive seventy-seven” times. Effectively, it is telling us to be generous in our forgiveness, which is what Mother Nature has been to us as well.
“Meeting the beautiful green light of the universe” is another work, represented by a human figure of 68 centimeters. He was looking at the small Angel positioned in the middle of his palm with a mutual understanding. Only when people can understand this intricacy of wonders created by God, and through his own humbling, then we can achieve a balance in the geo-cycle with Mother Cycle.
For the past 22 years, the clay figures always took on a small head with a fat body. The toes protruding from underneath. This is a reflection of the greed in this polluted world, people have lost their innocence, and all the efforts were used to think of obtaining small advantages. The size of the head became relatively small in this disproportion of energy. Yet, the toes are a remainder of the true nature of ourselves, one that cannot be hidden and should be drawn back into focus.
The use of multimedia is also a reflection of the contrast between material substance and the concept of time, just as the physical existence and the time of existence of all life on earth. The final disappearance of the physical body mirrors the fact that one day, the ceramic bird or figure can also be broken. The use of iron and wooden frame denotes the eternity of time. The use of feathers, which could represent the feather on the back of the angels, or the little wings on the angles; in turn draws on the symbolic representation of our faith in trust, hope and aspiration. While there are something in this universe which does not take on a physical form, our faith will remain the striving force that seek to maintain a balance with the universe.
The title of the work also constitutes an important poetic element; it is in itself like a narrative poem, revealing the in-depth meaning of the ceramic art.