Whispers of Animism – Jam Wu Solo Exhibition

“Vastness/ Dairy Cows Mooing/ Babbling Mountain Streams/ Muddy Dexter/ Dining on Wild Vegetables/ A Bead of Midnight Dew/ The Soul of the River/ The Spirit of Stones/ Tribesmen, Warriors, Men of Nature/ Narrators of Time/ Home – Mother’s Milk – Bird of Prophecy / Divining Rain / Sewing, Knitting, Gluing, and Cutting / Peach, Chestnut, Moss, Glass/ Moonlight on Waves of Rice Shoots/ The South Wind Escapes into The Valley of Myths “/ “Whispers of Animism”

圖一_泛靈腹語@bookjunkie

Symbols: Poetic Imagination

In naming his latest exhibition, Jam Wu used the poem “Whispers of Animism” in order to bring out the poetic qualities of his work. Wu invites you to imagine you are in an ancient old-growth forest, listening to the spirits of the mountains, rivers, stones, moonlight and wind gently whispering to you. In a time before the written word, people used symbols to intuit the world around them. Everything in nature carried symbolic importance. Wind, rain, thunder and lightning came come the heavens above, while beasts and birds inhabited the world below. Prehistoric people weaved these elements together into a world filled with mystery. This reflected our forebearers awe of nature and reverence towards their ancestors. Back then, it seemed like the natural world and humans were more in touch with each other. What we see in ancient symbology is actually our forebearers using imagination to form structure in response to the unknown. In “Whispers of Animism,” Jam Wu recreates the symbology of indigenous people to lead visitors into an ancient, mysterious land. (Photo credit:[email protected]

圖二_泛靈腹語@cinnamon0727

Cutting out a Fantasy World

Jam Wu is a young artist who has been very active in creative circles recently. Although Wu is well-known for his papercutting, he isn’t restricted by any one medium. Wu often crosses into other creative forms such as illustration, photography, instillation, video and performance art. Wu is also devoted to transforming traditional papercutting into a contemporary mode of expression. He aims to free papercutting from two-dimensions while imbuing his work with his own experience and his appreciation for the humanities. Wu’s papercutting can be seen as vehicle that can connect antiquity with modernity. Through creating art, it’s as if Wu is yearning for the world found in the realm of ancient myths. His 2013 exhibition, “Myth, Tree of Symbols and Missing Animals,” uses the symbols within myths to celebrate cultural differences. Wu’s 2018 exhibition, “Bonfire Songs,” explored commonalities between the myths of different groups of people from an Austronesian perspective. In “Whispers of Animism,” Wu distills the idyllic mystery of time immemorial and invites the public to imagine the first murmurs of civilization.
(Photo credit:[email protected]

圖三_泛靈腹語@jamwujam

In “Whispers of Animism,” papercutting is Wu’s chief medium of artistic expression. Many parts of the exhibit are pieces that depict human silhouettes. Wu uses people as the exhibit’s central concept to symbolize the origin of the universe. Wu’s papercutting of the human form is simple and neat. His depictions of indigenous maternity have smooth curves that outline the figure of a fertile woman. The exhibit’s central space includes a collage of papercutting and weaving that features three large pieces of draped cloth. The instillation weaves together blocks of color to recreate the celebratory atmosphere felt during the rituals of ancient witchcraft. In addition, many of the instillations allow people and substance (such as mountains, rivers, flowers, fruits and ancient utensils) to connect or have their shadows overlap. This reflects the state of perception between nature and humans in an animistic world. The “Bonfire Weaving” series uses paper made from ancient techniques to an even greater extent. It’s as if these ancient materials revitalize the life behind traditional mythology.
( Photo credit:[email protected]

It’s also worth noticing how Jam Wu made use of the Chishang Art Center when conceiving his exhibition. Visitors can see the interplay between Wu’s papercutting and the museum’s contrasted lighting within the building’s dark rooms, how the vaulted ceiling takes in sunlight as well as the exterior’s glass-walled corridors. Moving through the different instillations of Wu’s exhibition is like going on a mythological journey.

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