"Existentialism & The Chinese Question"

Posted on by Brittan Aebischer

There exists within every person and every culture a sense of what is normal. Norms take form when two or more people agree that an ideal is deemed acceptable. When one engages with other’s cultural--and inevitably--personal norms, the sense of conflict arises. The arousals of curiosity or superiority created by such differences often create compounding interest or dissemination between two different individuals or cultures. This is a clear fact and often we as humans thrive on the concept of “traveling” or “moving” towards new cultures and “discovering” new ways of life in order to engage or react to such compounding interests. 

What if we as people stopped traveling / discovering other cultures and started traveling or “discovering” within the depths and bowels of our own? Often life moves so fast through the moments of one’s daily lives that we find our own culture stuffed in empty drawers of our mind--or literally, in our own homes. The practice of our “traditions” is important, but why? Where did such traditions come from? Sometimes it is not how busy we are, but maybe how trifling, stagnant or daunting the path our cultures have taken is what really keeps us from engaging with it; isn’t ignorance bliss”?  Time is of the essence and the essence of time is how we as humans preserve past moments or ideals. 

The three pieces of art presented before you are questions not answers. Each piece presents “thinking space” or guided conversation with one’s self. The pieces are composed based on my many relationships and “moments” I have obtained while living in Shenzhen, China. As an expatriate living in China, the engagement of culture has often been greatly rewarding and overwhelming at the same time.  With such engagement both natural and through my great curiosity, I have collected semantic images that signify a specific personal meaning or an overall question to be had concerning my observations—semantic images being objects of culture or humanity within my Chinese experiences. 

I chose to find a single or multiple semantic images in order to extricate an ideal from the culture at large that I found interesting. I use the word “interesting” with great respects in terms of how I perceived the semantic image within the context of my own “self” and “culture”; thus the presentation of visual question(s). 

The visual images presented are not purely Chinese specific. I have personally found myself engaging my own culture and sense of ideals through the process of questioning because of my engagement with Chinese culture. I believe this art is a manifestation of questions I have for all of humanity and most importantly for myself.
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