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飛天 (Feitian) 2019

Ink Painting Installation

The installations 飛天 (Feitian) refer to flying deities often found in Chinese Buddhist paintings. 飛天 (Feitian) are nameless celestial beings that play supportive and decorative roles in Buddhist artwork. They are seen throwing flowers, dancing, or playing instruments in the sky while surrounding another, more important, deity. One of the oldest sites where 飛天 (Feitian) were depicted is the Dunhuang Magao Grottoes, thought to be created as early as 366AD. In their origin, these flying deities were portrayed as male, female, or sometimes without gender. Since their initial appearance, however, these icons have been co-opted to represent female grace and beauty, and have often been sexualized in popular culture. 


In this installation, by contrast, these beings’ bodies are severed; they exist neither to perform nor to support another, more central deity - they are suspended in liminal space. This liminal state, in which the body hasn’t coalesced, undoes the traditional imperative to serve as another’s decorative objects, thereby allowing autonomy and agency to return.

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