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Hanart TZ Gallery
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by Hanart TZ Gallery
Location: Hanart TZ Gallery
Artist(s): WU Shan Zhuan
Date: 29 May - 23 Jun 2010

‘Butterfrog’ in a Godless HeavenGao ShimingThe ‘butterfrog’ first appeared in the work of Wu Shanzhuan and Inga in 1995 as the emblem of ‘mono-sexism.’ Within the broad and complex systems of their work, ‘monosex’ corresponds to the method of production/reproduction of ‘things rights’; and the butterfrog is the vector of this production and reproduction. The emergence of the butterfrog perhaps was the result of an infatuation with the mysterious nature of these two organisms. Within their brief life cycle, both the frog and the butterfly undergo a kind of ‘evolution’.Within the monosex narrative, the butterfly and the frog are merged into one, self-structuring, self-generating, and highly integrated. The ‘butterfrog’s beauty lies in its being a kind of self-breeding entity within the succesionary process of the evolutionary chain. The butterfrog is a non-essential thing; it is not an end result, but an intermediate condition. It is not a thing in itself, but [a step in] the process of becoming a thing。Naturally, what Wu and Inga wish to express here is not the mystical philosophy of Zhuangzi’s transformation into a butterfly, nor a kind of [Daoist] physics encompassing cosmic ideas of spontaneous generation and the ultimate unity of all things.The butterfrog was not created in the garden of Eden, nor was it among the species saved from the flood by Noah’s Ark; it is not even a manufactured being, but rather it is a thing self-developed from life itself, a kind of evolutionary intermediate form whose existence has nothing to do with God. It is a vector of monosex reproduction, and at the same time is a kind of symbol of this naked and mysterious process--an indicator of some kind of theology of the future。I have always thought that within Wu and Inga’s body of work is implicit a kind of futuristic theological heresy, where the ‘perfect bracket’ becomes the substitution for the cross, and the butterfrog represents ‘the Way become flesh’ hidden within the perfect brackets. And unlike Jesus nailed to the cross, the butterfrog is not a sacrificial being. The butterfrog has nothing to do with sacrifice or offerings, it is only a sign emanating from the open process of evolution, a mysterious omen.This mysterious omen is placed in the heavens, where it becomes a ‘constellation’ within the vastness of the cosmos. The presence or absence of a constellation depends entirely on how a cluster of stars is linked together; it is a conceptual image that is consciously projected and constructed. Just like the image of the butterfrog, the constellation’s existence is non-essentialist. We see it, but it doesn’t actually exist. In terms of a constellation, appearance equals existence. In Wu Shanzhuan’s work, the cluster of stars forming the constellations is just like the instantaneous wordflow generated by the countless, anonymous ‘others’ roaming the Internet’s search engines. In Wu’s ‘Today No Water’ there is a recurring sentence—(year, month, day, what happened in other places?) This is what the artist pauses to worry about at a particular moment in time. And this implies not only a concern about the interconnectedness of existence and time,but also the existentialist’s sensitivity, through which is revealed a sense of concern for the other. Different to the narcissistic focus of many artists, what has always concerned Wu Shanzhuan is the question: What concerns other people in this moment? In 1980s China, Sartre’s statement ‘Hell is other people’ was quoted everywhere, but Wu Shanzhuan turned this concept on its head when he wrote: ’God is other people.’ Today, with the Internet as a site of simultaneous and ever-flowing encounter, the constant flow of language emanating from the fleeting congregations of the interests and concerns of innumerable others and their myriad, momentary desires form the mysterious trajectory of the constellations。As Adorno said, constellations give rise to a unique state of interpenetration in which there is no dominance, but only difference.Within this interpenetration of differences, the evolutionary process is completely self-contained and self-generated, without any interference from ‘above’. And isn’t this the essence of the butterfrog?In the night sky, the flashing and changing desires emanating from the infinite differences of others form the image of the butterfrog: a constellation for the others, shining in the heaven of the others. A heaven where there is no god.(Translated by Valerie C. Doran)


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