Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts

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Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts
The Power of My Smile
2019-04-19 ~ 2019-06-30

We are always chasing faces. Regardless of what kind of images appears in front of our eyes, a person’s face, or any similar construct, it will immediately capture our attention. We collect pictures of all kinds of faces in our installations, and gradually, these machines develop the same preferences under our influences, and sometimes they are even more passionate. Just as German philosopher Georg Christoph Lichtenberg said, “We can see nothing whatever of the soul unless it is visible in the expression of the countenance.” Regardless of men or machine, the truth is, we as mad pursuers simply desire to see the elusive nature deep down inside. Mankind’s face-worshipping craze in the late modern era peaked through the Western world’s global colonization. Western ethnology scholars and researchers began a series of studies recording measurements of faces and skulls, especially those strange ones from exotic colonies. It was also at this point in time, Western African masks, as the faces of the others, became a perfect kind of symbolic objects. They were imported to Europe in large quantities, becoming treasured antiques of collectors, while also triggering a revolution of creative methods of art. For example, a group of critics and artists led by Carl Einstein began to describe these objects from foreign lands through aesthetic perspectives; their works, in addition to defining the so-called African art, have profoundly influenced the way we see even until today. In recent years, when returning problematic African sculptures becomes a huge headache for Western museums, Asian collectors have seemingly become a new generation of powerful consumers. Although their acquisitions do not equivalent to Western colonial looting, their ideology and methodology have obviously referenced Western viewpoints, and such facts have also been reflected through their display methods and publications. “The Power of My Smile” borrows the slogan of a famous toothpaste brand, and tries to explore how the images of the faces of the others call upon the East and integrate into the contemporary capitalist system.