We can’t escape_____, so, _________.
How many people hate trivialities and try to escape the dull routines as much as I did?
How many people choose to escape into painting, reading, traveling, food, or sleep to avoid facing the reality like what I did?
During a trip to Sheffield, I wore a colorful mask and white fishing net to perform escaping.
Mask helps me to disguise real self that you avoid exposing in public, when nobody could see the expression of my face on the street, I feel more comfortable, that’s why I like wearing a mouth mask or big sunglasses normally.
Fishing net represents escape into something in this performance. It’s like Harry Potter’s invisible cloak, wherever I am, nobody could see me, whatever happened, I don’t need to care, all that I want to do is to be hidden in the invisible cloak and live in my own world.
Thus, I escape into books, scenes, music, food, art……
However, the fact is that everyone still could see me through the holes of the fishing net. No matter how I try to hide, I’m still connected to the world, the God still could see me everywhere.
Like the face trying to flee away from the canvas, but no matter how hard it tries, with a wire cage covering the canvas, it can’t escape.
I have no choice but must admit, I have nowhere to escape.
So, what should I do?
I wrote down this fill-ins on a paper and kept asking myself for answers.
We can’t escape death, so, live harder.
We can’t escape loneliness, so, enjoy being alone
We can’t escape judgment, so, be yourself.
We can’t escape responsibility, so, take it.
We can’t escape separation, so, love as much as you can.
We can’t escape oblivion, so, cherish this moment.
We can’t escape mistakes, so, forgive the past.
We can’t escape fate, so, face it.
Like what Eduardo Costa said in his Useful Art Manifesto “Art should not be elitist, but should serve society in some practical way”, which influenced the Cuban artist and activist Tania Bruguera, who composed the Migrant manifesto “Artist should be active and engaged citizens who create art that is useful to society.”
Reviewing the history of society and art movements, I realized that art is not escape, but a way how we fight with the world and make the society better.
Like what Anais Nin said, “We do not escape into philosophy, psychology, and art– we go there to restore our shattered selves into whole ones.”
Or what Robert Hayden said, “Art is not escape, but a way of finding order in chaos, a way of confronting life.”
So, I cut the mask, to face it
I painted two self-portraits, the first painting mixed by wire mesh, wire cages, strings, my performance pictures, and heavy acrylic, showing me trying to flee but still covered in a cage. While in the second painting, my body is composed by my performance pictures, but different with the performance, I cut the mask here and chose to face the world.
Like what Romain Rolland said, “There is only one heroism in the world: to see the world as it is, and to love it.”
To admit and accept that we can’t escape is not compromise, but a courage to let go and move on.
Royal College of Art, London
Eduardo Costa, “Useful Art Manifesto”(1969)
Tania Bruguera and Immigrant Movement international, Migrant Manifesto(2011)
Why are we ‘Artists’? 100 World Art Manifestos. Selected by Jessica Lack (2017)
Exhibition: RA 250th Summer Exhibition