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Paradise Lost, 2016

As a Chinese born American Artist, I initially felt extremely misplaced and lost in Toffia. As an artist, I felt both familiar and unfamiliar about this small town in the middle of the Italian Mountains. It’s familiar because this town offers everything I have read and learned about European art and theater history, and I eventually get my hands laid on the profound history itself. However, I also felt extremely unfamiliar with this far-far-away land, which is so distant away from the other stereotypically well-renown historical Italian cities, such as Rome, Venice, or Florence. But I found a different kind of peace and liveliness from this lost paradise that was missing from my urban life in the United States.


Art is to start a dialogue, a conversation. As an artist, I often dealt with problems related to life, death, repression, politics, and spirituality. My conversation always started with a materialized medium which will lead into an immaterialized content that is driven by desire and thirsty for understanding and cultivating the world we live in.


The awareness and admiration of the history, the culture and the lives here in Toffia, is leading me to the initiation of creation. I used ordinary and natural objects from the surrounding of this town, and the content of this exhibition focuses on the new lives and new generations raised upon the history and the past.  The creating process is my meditative dialogue with the history and the nature here, which draws me closer into Toffia.  The final works then become the dialogue between me—an outsider and the local audience.


The so called Paradise Lost (世外桃源), is referring to a famous ancient Chinese prose, about a man trespassing a peaceful unknown territory  that started by the habitants for the reason of avoiding the demotic world. But he couldn’t find it when he comes back. The formation of the whole installation is borrowing the ideology and theories from the Zen Garden and the profound Chinese fiction. As the audiences enter into the space, there are two choices to start with, but in the end there is only one way to finish. 



--Tianyu Qiu, Artist, 2016

The Habitat, 2016


Wood logs, Aluminum Wires, Rope, Bird Cage, Live Canary


Wood logs are used for heating the houses here in winter, in this case the wood logs are dead trees, which it meant to serve the purposes of other lives. As the audience start engaging with the installation, they immediately enter into a mythological and even grotesque world, the branches became paths, and the thick wood logs piling on the corner become a massive tree. The dead trees now become “alive”.


It isn’t yet lively enough to only have “Live” trees in a Zen garden. It offers more energy and liveliness to the garden by adding the canary and its nest. However, It’s like to execute or to punish the canary by hanging it in the cage, which detaches it from its real home—the nest. At the end of the exhibition the bird will be released, and it symbolizes the rebirth upon the repression, and life rises upon the death. 


The Habitants, 2016


Antique Wooden Desk, Round Rocks(Cobbles), Ink writings, flower, dirt


These round rocks are used as a fundamental construction material that can be seen everywhere here in Toffia in the pavements, the streets, the steps, and even the walls. The names written on the rocks are the previous generations from Toffia who have passed way, most of them are born from 1800s to early 1900s, and these are the people who lived and built the culture and history of this town. Each rocks are not only monuments for them, but also are the foundation of Toffia. The desk has been used by many generations for many years, it already became a materialized object to represent time. The flower growing out in the drawer is a new and active life added into this demolished and decayed world. The combination of all the elements is to objectify and to materialize the meaning of life cycle in the dimension of time, and it is presented in one single still sculpture.


The Bell Ringer, 2016


Church bell, Performance


In this old Italian town, the church bell rings every hour and also rings for special occasions and religious purposes. I found it already become a timer for me.


The performance of ringing bell in every single hour throughout the exhibition, marks the flow of time in the space, which emphasized the dimension of time while experiencing and engaging with the objects.


Reincarnation, 2016


Rotted Wood Log with Fungus, dirt, live grass


The biological life cycle is the fundamental rule of the world we live in. The idea and philosophy of Yin and Yang relates to the changing position of life and death. A small grass is planted onto the dead wood log that the meaning of death is to support nutrition for the new life, they become bonded to each other, however, the grass will die, and new grass will grow on top it. So death is not only death, but also life; life is not only life, but also death.


The notion of reincarnation may not only exist in religion and mythology, but maybe it’s just a phenomenological nature that we have to embrace, so we can rediscover a bigger meaning about life.


Recovering, 2016 


Medieval Fresco Wall Painting, Paper, Black Tape, Color Pencil 

The Medieval Fresco Painting has already exited on the wall for hundreds of years, and it's fallen apart. I started to cove the parts that was missing on the painting with white paper and black tape. Then I asked the local viewers to write their names on the white paper with color pencil. The purpose for me is to create a bridge between the past and the present, and to start a dialogue between the two. In contrary to The Habitants, the names on the paper are current generation, and the names on the rock of The Habitants are the past generation. 

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