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Artical by Wendy Gers

Wan Liya

The Pulse of The Earth

 

After the series of earthquake shocks that had overturned everything, left no stone standing on another in her soul, one feeling alone had stood fast, and that was her love for the soldier. For love is like a tree; it grows of itself, strikes its roots deep into our being, and often continues to flourish and keep green over a heart in ruins (Victor Hugo 1917).[i]

 

Wan Liya has produced a bold installation consisting of five totemic earthenware sculptures inspired by the theme of this exhibition, Cont{r}act Earth. Clay and wooden discs rotate around central axes, multiply and proliferate via shadows. The totems are formal interpretations of seismograph readings of ground motion at specific international locations. Each totem symbolizes a major earthquake on one of the five continents. The different clay bodies used in the works are also representative of geological diversity, and evoke the tectonic shifts involved in the exposure of rock and clay seams.

 

Formally the layered, ribbed structure of seismographic readings of tremors recalls aspects of the creation process and profile of wheel-thrown vessels: The artist notes:

Rotational molding production method is one of the oldest production techniques in existence and is used almost throughout the entire history of ceramic art. The shape of vessels from each period articulate the distinct characteristics and information of the times.[ii]

 

As suggested by Hugo’s gypsy heroine, Esmerelda, whose love for the soldier Phœbus was confirmed in the aftermath of an earthquake, The Pulse of the Earth, hints that the trauma of an earthquake forces humanity to reevaluate their priorities. Similarly, the artist hopes,

this ceramic exhibit can invite the viewers to think about the relationship between human civilization and nature, from a perspective as an individual and as part of the entire humanity.[iii]



[i]        Hugo, Victor Marie. Notre Dame de Paris. Vol. XII. Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction. New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1917.

[ii]       Wan Liya. Unpublished Text, Wan Liya’s Comments. December 18, 2016. 

[iii]      Ibid.

 

By :Wendy Gers

Researcher / Chercheuse: ENSA Limoges, France & University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Curator / Commissaire d'expositions: Post-colonialism? Benyamini Contemporary Ceramics Center, Tel Aviv, Israel & Cont{r}act Earth, 2016 Central China International Ceramics Biennale, Henan Museum, China

Email:wgers@sfr.fr

 

 

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