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Artists: Lily & Honglei Art Studio
Year of production: 2016
Duration: 16’23”
Medium: Oil on Paper, digital animation, soundtrack

 

 

 

CROSSROADS is a three-part animated series. Aesthetically, the series mixes the imagery of classical painting with socialist propaganda art, while its narrative fuses the idioms of Greek mythology with that of traditional Chinese ghost tales. The piece offers insight into many facets of China’s political and social condition, shedding light on the country’s decades-long struggle between westernization and insulation.

 

Chapter I. Riddle

 

The first segment, Riddle, begins with an intimate moment between Oedipus and the Sphinx. In this chapter, Oedipus is charmed by the exotic beauty and extraordinary strength of the sphinx, just as the Chinese leaders of 1980s were enchanted by the fruits of the Western world. The namesake scene of the sphinx’s riddle reflects on the three stages of China's political reformation: first, a humble imitation of the West, followed by a ruthless severing of its own cultural lineage, and ultimately an incestuous confusion and entanglement as the country endeavors and fails to rid itself of its millennia-old identity.

 

contemporary China, Asian art, reform in China

 

Asian artist, Chinese media art

 

Still images from Crossroads, Chapter I. Riddle
Courtesy of Lily & Honglei Art Studio

 

Chapter II. Golden Touch

 

Deng Xiaoping appears with donkey ears in the second chapter, Golden Touch. This section presents an account of the political intrigues surrounding Deng using the imagery of the Classical tale of King Midas. In 1989, the Chinese political situation took a dark turn. In the same spirit as a medieval Chinese fable about a pair of demon who slaughter human beings and sell their flesh for consumption at a crossroads, Deng exchanged the blood spilled during the Tiananmen Square Massacre for material prosperity. Deng’s touch of gold represents the miraculously rapid economic development that took place under his direction, as well as the persistence of autocratic power.

 

Chinese art, Asian Art

 

Asian artist, Chinese artist

 

Still images from Crossroads, Chapter II. Golden Touch
Courtesy of Lily & Honglei Art Studio

 

Chapter III. Judgement

 

The third chapter, Judgement, speaks of China’s political situation during this past decade. This segment features a series of absurd but true incidents, all of which epitomize the preposterous nature of the country’s cultural and political status quo. In an allusion to the Judgment of Paris, Xi Jinping judges three diva-type women stripping before him. He also watches a procession of jesters, whose performance symbolizes condition of the reality in present-day China. Finally, the organ harvest scenes illustrate this reality through a grim instance; leaders such as Xi are able to avoid death using organs obtained through this shadowy procedure and perpetuate the existence of the communist regime.

 

Chinese art, Asian art

 

Asian art, Chinese art

 

Still images from Crossroads, Chapter III. Judgement
Courtesy of Lily & Honglei Art Studio


 

 

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