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"Never Talk to Strangers" at island6 ShGarden "Beijing Calling" by Liu Dao "Wonderland" by Liu Dao "Safaitic Reverie" by Liu Dao "Origin Story" by Liu Dao
"From Russia With Love" by Liu Dao "Walk Away" by Liu Dao "Changshan Swindler" by Liu Dao "Housebreaking in the Farmland" by Liu Dao "Grey Reverend" by Liu Dao "Building our Empire" by Liu Dao

“Never Talk to Strangers”

I’m not a narcissist; it’s just hard for me to accept that everyone around me is real; that they are not just actors in my X-rated movie of a life. And I myself am an actor. I endure hours of small talk, extend my face reluctantly in a smile, I untag myself from Facebook images that interfere with the illusion I project; every status update is a calculation. Reality is like working on a movie for an actor, it is a lot of pretending and it is hard work. Memory is like watching the edited polished film, where pretending is almost real, and the whole experience is pure entertainment, a euphoric recall.

“Temporality temporalizes as a future which makes present in the process of having been.”[1] The universal predicament we are all cursed to be in is the constant conversion process of invisible future into invisible past, with barely discernable—and yet very real—present somewhere in between. The harder you try to pinpoint this present moment, or savor it, or distinguish it from the overall stream of time, the harder it is to grasp, like a slippery cock at a blind orgy.

The finite nature of life’s moments is terrifying, and yet, the idea of an infinite moment or eternity is equally unbearable. The idea that one day all our moments will be gone does not stop us from killing time. If killing time was a legal offense, the punishment for it would be eternity. In a dentist’s chair the little moment-ants stuck in the amber of time lose all their value, and are cursed and trampled upon by the irreverent mind. However, in a moment of intimacy before a prolonged departure of a dear friend, the same amber moments gain value, and even though freezing these moments is a futile effort, we do it anyway through ingenious devices. We record images on magnetic disks, we etch them on our skin, we leave residues of substances in our lungs and in our blood.

Temporality of moments can be illustrated by something as intense and absurd as an orgasm. There is something intentional in the fact that an orgasm is so brief. Billions of humans pursue it on a daily basis, overcoming great obstacles, risking reputations and sometimes health for a few seconds of something different. For some mammals orgasm lasts a half an hour, but if that were the case for humans, would sex become more enjoyable and therefore be pursued more? I highly doubt that’s even possible, since humans are famously a horny bunch of fuckers as it is. I doubt sex needs any additional selling points. It's almost like nature is telling us that it doesn’t matter how long an orgasm lasts, inevitably a moment will come when it is over, and its non-existence is something you will have to face. That’s why we have a post-sex cigarette; we bathe in the afterglow of the completed action, thus refusing to fully accept its finality. This applies to other actions: coffee after dinner, an aperitif and a nightcap, anything to extend the moments and reduce the moment-less periods of sleep or such mundane periods as time spent on personal hygiene or various mindless distractors.

Scarcity of moments, not cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death. The fact that man is mortal is only half of the tragedy, worst of all is that he is often mortal unexpectedly, as Woland, the devil, puts it in Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita. Woland predicts that his companion will be decapitated later that day in order to prove his point in an argument over whether Man is in control of the Universe or not. (How can one be in control of anything if they cannot control where they will be by dinnertime?) Berlioz, the companion, does not believe the Mephistophelian stranger, but his disbelief ends along with his life as the prediction becomes true.

Hunter S. Thompson famously said that he’d feel trapped if he hadn’t known he could commit suicide at any time. Following Thompson’s suicide, his friend Ralf Steadman wrote something that captures temporality: “I have always known that one day I would know this journey; but yesterday, I did not know that it would be today.”[2] The amount of control we are given in the universal predicament is incredibly marginal, we’re born with a death sentence, and the only thing we can control is the time of our death. Theoretically, Berlioz could have taken his own life prior to the decapitation, but that’s all he could have done. The choice is very limited: you either die now, or you die later. It might be tomorrow, but today you think it isn’t.

In the meantime you lie at night terrified by the coldness of the universe, thinking of the eternal questions and shit, and the toothless severed head jumping down the stairs away from the tram tracks. Then, all of a sudden the fear is gone, as you feel your lover’s hand on your inner thigh.


[1]Martin Heidegger, Being and Time

[2] Ralf Steadman, Farewell Hunter

"Never Talk to Strangers" at island6 ShGarden
 
“Never Talk to Strangers”
别和陌生人说话
Shanghai
DATES From May 2nd to June 27th 2014
VERNISSAGE Friday 2nd of May, from 7 to 10pm
CURATION Misha Kalhin, Margaret Johnson
ART DIRECTION Thomas Charvériat
SCENOGRAPHY Jean Le Guyader
MUSIC Hani Abbasi (mp3)
VIDEO Video Documentation by Mark Mehanni & Fabrice Amzel
RESEARCH Kim Shillam, Weronika Nossowicz, Kathleen McCampbell
ART RESEARCH Xu Yihan 徐义涵, Jin Yun 金云
COORDINATION Yeung Sin Ching 杨倩菁, Guan Yan 官彦
VENUE island6 ShGarden, 50 Moganshan Road, building #7, G/F, Shanghai
ARTISTS

island6 art collective (Liu Dao 六岛)

BLURB

island6 and the Liu Dao art collective present the lucidly surreal, "Never Talk to Strangers" dedicated to those moments of release and longing that we all desperately try to extend. From the oh-so brief and absurd orgasm, to the post-prandial coffee and cigarette, the show explores notions of temporality and release, longing and satisfaction for those treasured few seconds of something different... (read more >>>)

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island6 is a philanthropic project founded by artists and managed by devoted creative staff. The spirit & driving force behind all of island6's works and art-forward exhibitions is collaboration.
六岛是由艺术家自发创立, 由创作人员管理的公益艺术机构。其精神是为艺术家提供平台并支持各项协作项目。