In 1888, Nietzsche wrote in The Antichrist (Der Antichrist) that modern people have been reduced to useful “screws”
(Rad) and “Intelligent Machines” (intelligente Maschinen). The absurdity of modernity is reflected in day-to-day labour and life, everyone seems to have nuance, but they are gradually made “Mediocre” (der Mittelmässigen) with apathy. In Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Also sprach Zarathustra), he had proposed a solution called “eternal recurrence” (die ewige Wiederkunft). That is, to understand every moment of life as the moment of the collision between the past and the future (Augenblick), regain meaning by creating to resist mediocrity.
In this exhibition, Geng Dayou attempts to make a series of responses to the proposition of “eternal recurrence”. He is deeply influenced by Eastern and Western philosophies and myths and has been committed to social observation on a long-term basis. He tries to mobilise multiple media or sub-themes related to it. At the same time, he borrowed Richard Wagner’s concept of total art (Gesamtkunstwerk) to have various mediums such as performance installations, space installations, moving images, giclée, print and sound art present at the same time during the curatorial practice; by using the form of post-dramatic theatre, mediums can ensemble the philosophy of “eternal recurrence” together.
As early as the Axis Civilisation period described by Karl Theodor Jaspers, mankind began to explore the origin of the world based on the four classical elements of “earth, water, fire, and air” and the five phases (五行)of “metal, water, wood, fire, and earth”. In the course of contemporary art, German artist Anselm Kiefer used the five elements of “fire, water, earth, air and void” to interpret the first core word of late-period Heidegger -Ereignis. Natural elements such as wood, fire, air, light, metal, and bricks frequently appear in this series of works. In particular, Geng Dayou is more enthusiastic about the use of fire in his creative practice. Perhaps it is related to the “Fire Heaven DaYou” hexagram “(火天大有卦) from “The Book of Changes” (易经) . Fire in the “Eight Trigrams” (八卦)is represented by the Li hexagram (离). The original meaning of this hexagram is “Burning”, but it can also mean “Light” and “Civilisation”; when combined with Qian hexagram(乾), it is called “ Dayou” (Possession in Great Measure /大有). To burn, fire requires wood as a cause and wind as a prerequisite. It can be burned to turn into metal, and after burning, it becomes soil; and the fire itself also echoes the rich fire origin of the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus.
In the end, Geng Dayou seems to directly adopt the theme of “eternal return”, but he is not trying to retell Nietzsche’s original intentions in his works. Rather than trying to explain Nietzsche, this exhibition is rather a vague opportunity to create an “eternal recurrence” in the absurd ruins of technology and capital and invite viewers to participate together to complete the work itself with an open attitude.
Author: Luo Shiping Translation: Geng Dayou
Artist-Curator: Geng Dayou, born in 1998. He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from King’s College London and a master’s degree in contemporary art from Sotheby’s Institute of Art. Artist, contemporary art writer, amateur curator. He is currently working and living in Shanghai. Geng Dayou is deeply influenced by Eastern and Western philosophy, psychology and mysticism. His works involve mediums such as installation, performance, moving image, print, theatre, video games etc. Regardless of the medium, his works can all be understood as a series of poetic and humorous theatrical performances., through the deconstruction and reconstruction of ready-made and natural materials, to reproduce the cruel and absurd tragedy of life from the abstract theatrical landscape.
Academic Support: Luo Shiping, Ph.D. in Art Philosophy at Tongji University. Master’s degree in Buddhism. His research mainly involve Chinese Buddhism, German modern philosophy, German contemporary art, etc.
Artist-Curator: Geng Dayou Academic Support: Luo Shiping Sound: Shaw & Dayou
Visual Design: Roaming Service
2021/09/17-10/24, Wed-Sun, 13:30-20:00
-1F, No.4, Zhaohua Road 518, Shanghai, China
Exhibition Link (WeChat):