Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts

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Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts
A Slow Universe Comes With Something Like Death–Su Hui-Yu Solo Exhibition
Date
2014-07-18 ~ 2014-09-14

A Slow Universe Comes With Something Like Death

When with his children and starting to feel sleepy, Su Hui-yu is haunted by thoughts that have no relation to his children whatsoever, such as thoughts of death. For this reason, he created the series Whale Mass Suicide, which he produced during an eight-month period from 2013 to early 2014. The series, in Su's own words, “looks at death and ideas closely related to death from the perspective of my own children.” The work A Slow Universe Comes with Something Like Death started from an early attempt at filming a scene from another work in the same series Papa Is Not Here. On the eve of premiering Whale Mass Suicide, Su came across this preliminary footage and played it back very slowly. Slowing down the playback renders the children's voices very low in pitch and difficult to understand, and gives them a distant, ghost-like grace. The scene feels viscous and heavy as time slows down, the children seem to be drifting in outer space, and light flickers, all suggesting a state between waking and sleeping. This clip seems even closer to Su’s concept of “catching a glimpse of death while in a trance,” which was his inspiration for Papa Is Not Here. Hence A Slow Universe Comes with Something Like Death was borne of random footage—the artist had not intended on using it, but it seemed to generate meaning on its own. In a certain respect, A Slow Universe Comes with Something Like Death could be called a prequel to the Whale Mass Suicide series.

The feeling of stalled time in A Slow Universe Comes with Something Like Death is reminiscent of Su’s earlier work Stilnox Home Video: The Midnight Hours as well as a more recent work Sex and Death and the Boy Infant. These three works belong together; they all are about liminal states between wakefulness and sleep, and between fantasy and reality. This state is associated with life (clear consciousness), death (no consciousness), and sexual activity (consciousness of the body), as well as many other hidden secrets.