Thursday, December 16, 2010

“The Path of Mystery Leads Inwards:”#

Nina Boys
Contemporary Art and New Media in China
Final Project
Artist Statement

“The Path of Mystery Leads Inwards:”#
A Personal Response to the Interconnectedness of Art and Philosophy

The interview on “transexperiences” between Zhu Xian and Chinese artist Chen Zhen put a lot of my own philosophies on art, travel and life into perspective. I related with much of what Chen Zhen was voicing because I, too, connect with this concept of “transexperiences” that allows one to “immserse oneself in life, to blend and identify oneself with others”# in an experiential manner. Of late I myself have been recognizing the “boundarylessness” of humanity and therefore of art, as art is simply a visual representation of the human experience. So when Chen Zhen says that “you have me in you and I have you in me,” I recognize that this understanding is what informs his outlook on life and art is the way in which he expresses this to others. He fled China, isolated himself, traveled around the world, returned home and departed again in a cycle that manifests itself through his artwork; because for Chen Zhen art is a philosophical experience rather than a physical object. It is the “here and now” of every moment of his voyage that is valuable, not the physical object that comes to symbolize them. Ironically, he would never have learned the futility of escape unless he had fled China initially.
While Chen Zhen’s philosophy correlates to my own, to suggest that they are the same or different would be misleading as they encompass the very “sameness” of the human condition. These “transexperiences” belong not to someone who is overtly knowledgeable about the world but rather one that “does not belong to anybody, yet [who is] in possession of everything.” Thus the term “transexperience” is merely a road sign pointing to an enlightened form of being that focuses on presence rather than action. His experiences were far more than the experience themselves; they were a way of life and his artwork is an expression of this that can be read regardless of language or culture. Art is powerful in this regard because it has the capacity to elevate consciousness to a level that transcends social constructs and dances instead with the intangible.
Furthermore, art is a beautiful part of the human experience because it is not confined to paint, theater or sculpture; it can be far more intangible and to think that it was would be to limit art in the same way that words often limit awareness. Art can be any infinite expression of these “transexperiences,” even those which transcend sensory input such as a beautiful smile, a contagious laugh or an expression of pure sorrow. The magic of art is that it is all around us and that we create it simply by being. Everything else flows naturally and it is this very “boundarylessness” of art discussed by Chen Zhen that has informed my personal photographic reaction to it.
Something that has struck me while in Shanghai are the moments in when I literally transcend experience. From different angles and perspectives I can see the limitless in a framed moment in time and space, in fact I am that very limitless. I am in Shanghai and yet that is not as important as the fact that I am “here” and “now” and the very fact that I “am.” While these moments do not catalyze me into creating art, the very fact that I recognize them means that life and “being” is its own work of art that one needs only to open oneself up to in order to appreciate. This in turn allows us to appreciate its physical manifestation that we call artwork, and in modern day, contemporary artwork. Chen Zhen believes that understanding is non-existent as far as art is concerned since the very ambiguity and “misunderstanding" that stems from contemporary art is its own greatest attribute; it allows us to experience and interpret the indefinable. I have tried to capture some of these personal moments of “transexperience” through the photographic medium in order to represent the philosophic outlook that Chen Zhen and I share.

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