In my practice I am often interested in engaging people within frameworks that are preoccupied with what happens when humans come together and share responsibility over simple things. These situations imply a complex relationship to a variety of different concepts and notions of utopia.
The two points regarding the Confucian concept of dàtóng that resonate most with me in Andrew Pendakis’s text, which became the foundation for my contribution, are the absence of any consideration of the relationship between humans and nature, on the one hand, and its role as an actual political program during Mao’s cultural revolution, on the other.
My sculpture, a lotus flower about to blossom in a Thai military boot sculpted from local clay found near my place in Chiang Mai, is a simple response that combines these two seemingly disparate elements. It is a consideration of the relationship between humans and nature; further, it is a meditation on the tension between utopian ideas and the means of their realization, posing the question of whether dàtóng “remains consigned to the saddest of fates: that of being a beautiful (but largely toothless) idea,” or whether it can be much more, ideally beyond and outside of the realm of militarist mass politics.