Coinciding with Asian Art in London, China Exchange presents you Mr. Sea, a special porcelain film created by young Chinese artist Xue GENG. Mr. Sea is adapted from “Tales of Liaozhai”, the ghost novel of Qing Dynasty. It tells a mysterious story about a scholar with a serpent-tempter and a prostitute on a wasteland. Director’s Statement: I made out the film by ceramics sculpture art. The value of this film is aimed at taking ceramics as a language and how to exert the characteristics of this language in it. It mounts a metamorphosis from potter’s clay to sculpture, then to the ceramics motion. In my opinion, everything is so delicacy. For me, ceramics is material, language, also, the target I pour out with. Meanwhile, this film is also blended with the new content and mode of the artist under traditional eastern culture, aesthetics and contemporary context. And it tells the ultimate concern about human beings and existence according to the tiny personal view and the bardian art language.
Screening time: on the hours and half-hours between 12pm and 6pm on a daily basis. ( Please note the screening on 7th November is from 3pm to 6pm only).
Duration of the film: 13 minutes.
Please be advised it contains adult content and may not be suitable for children.
Porcelains as the Media of Souls
By Xu Jialing
Geng Xue almost took a year to make the movie Mr. Sea. The main scenes and characters are made by firing porcelains. Porcelains construct her unique artistic language. Her temperament seems more similar to porcelains, which helps with her creation. Geng graduated from the pottery major of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Sculpture Studio in 2007. From A Representation of Hanxizai Dinner to Along the River and other theme creationsDMr. Sea brings her porcelain creation into a new phase. Whether on porcelain-making or new media application, porcelain has a brand-new beginning in her works, because Mr. Sea opens up a new creation dimension, which is to present the possibility of this material with multi-media means.
Mr. Sea is one of the tales in Pu Songling’s Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio and nothing special among the entire collection. Basically, Geng’s Mr. Sea is filmed following the thread of Pu Songling’s original tale. So, it is reluctant to be counted as the deconstruction of the masterpiece. In my opinion, the value of Geng’s Mr. Sea does not lie in using porcelains to film a classic mystery and supernatural tale but how to give play to the features of porcelains in this work.
As I mentioned before, there is an inborn connection between Geng and porcelains. However, this does not attribute to the fact that she took this major during her undergraduate study. Instead, her upbringing experience, personalities and other elements reach certain agreement with the features and temperament of porcelains. I love the porcelain figures made by her effortlessly. These little spirits are like curling souls, miserable and depressed. The luster of porcelains is like moonlight, cold and dim. I have pointed out that shadows exist in Geng’s works, which constitute the spiritual power in her porcelain works. After all, “things without shadows cannot live” in this world.
In my opinion, each culture has its understanding about “shadows”, which could be named as “shadow culture”, including Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, Anecdotes about Spirits and Immortals as well as those mystery and supernatural tales in the scripts of Wei, Jin, South and North Dynasties. They try to record the comprehension and imagination about the other side of world in our culture. I believe a person with adequate knowledge will understand such culture, because only with shadows, this world can be full and complete. Until then, culture and life is endowed with diversity. In large part, the essence of traditional Chinese painting is shadows instead of the colorful objects in our naked eyes.
Geng’s works give a full play to such “shadow culture”. Each spirit she made from fire is sensitive and cold. In her consciousness, she believes all the existence has souls and therefore holds in awe and veneration. Otherwise, her works shall not carry the delicate sense observed from life. I feel that what impressed me most about her Mr. Sea is neither the adoption of filming techniques nor how exquisite the visual effect is, though these are the necessary combination of the success. Instead, the grasps of the characters’ pains in this work is most appealing. She bridged the coldness and fragility of porcelains with the pains in a perfect way. Rather than considering this movie full of horror atmosphere, it’d be better to say that porcelain as a language expressed the fragility and pains in human life to a maximum degree. Like the blood spattered from Zhang Sheng’s mouth in the tale Mr. Sea, it has an explosive power.
Geng has made numerous works with porcelains, or to say she’s using porcelains to express her inner feelings about the world. Through her hands, those spirits come to the world one after another, fresh but cold. As she described earlier, “porcelains are her media connecting to the souls.”
Special thanks to Beautiful Asset Art Project.