IMN #31 — Yuyu
It's Monday Night #31
Tonight, let’s share thoughts about @cyber_yuyu's work: a queer and post-colonial rewriting of the loving, desiring, warlike body, which deconstructs the visual representations at the foundation of heterocentric Western cultures.
The work of @cyber_yuyu is a fiercely joyful and impertinent reappropriation of art history.
Using the tools of photography and graphic design in a simple and effective way, he stages himself as the protagonist of a number of "hits" in European art history.
Here I'd speak of a poetics of photo-bombing: the irruption of an unexpected & unwanted body in the frame that cannot fit in & ruins the shot.
Photo-bombing brings us to the figure of the intruder: the one who is not welcome & who, by their mere presence, disturbs a situation.
Because, if photo-bombing is funny, most of the time, it should not make us forget that the intruder - who threatens the dominant representations - is often the subject of unfriendly treatments.
The intruder is the one who supposedly has does not belong somewhere or is mistakenly placed in the wrong context: the reflex is to exclude or to ridicule them - physical violence on one side, symbolic violence on the other.
In a sense, @cyber_yuyu deliberately chooses this position of intruder, he "photo-bombs", as queer and Taiwanese, Western painting blockbusters. And this is where things get really interesting.
Why is that? Because what takes place in @cyber_yuyu's digital paintings is a reaction - in the sense of a chemical reaction.
Yuyu is interested in both the way a context (pictorial and symbolic) reacts to the presence of his body and the way his own body is transformed by being recontextualized.
The issue is more precisely that of a reciprocal recontextualization, which cannot be done without frictions, clashes, dissonances.
@cyber_yuyu puts himself in the position of the main character - the subject of the painting, the hero of the myth.
This gesture of appropriation is proud, empowering, festive; it is also a political act: it empties the place of representation - the place of power - and occupies the territory.
Hence the utopian and allegorical dimensions of @cyber_yuyu's works: through imagination, criticizing what is (social norms) and enlarging what can be (utopia); through the universalization of a queer representation, creating a new symbol that people can rally around (allegory).
@cyber_yuyu blurs the outline of identities and makes self-affirmation a pleasure and a sensual and funny epic. Each painting is an erotic witticism.
But it also reveals how the bodies that count, that embody the aesthetic, moral and emotional norms of heterocentric Western life, are shaped: how we touch each other, look at each other, confront each other, undress and make love.
For centuries, art has been the matrix of these norms: it has sublimated, reinforced, embellished them, it has been the factory of social conventions.
@cyber_yuyu decided to hack this factory and make it his laboratory.
The result is fascinating. First, because the artist really takes the risk of blending in.
The frivolity, irreverence and taste of scandal which emerges from it should not make us forget that this work constitutes a form of coming out: as creative, carnivalesque & parodic as it is, Yuyu's paintings necessarily comprises, in our patriarchal societies, a part of danger.
The artist puts himself at stake by his practice, he melts and merges with a normative space which is, in the collective unconscious, made to exclude him.
Not only does @cyber_yuyu subvert the space of pictorial representation but he subverts himself (colors, clothing, positioning, etc.) to create a harmony with the painted scene.
This subversion appears on his face, extremely expressive, by a theatrical exaggeration a little kitsch and resolutely ironic but also, sometimes, by a much simpler attitude: the astonishment to be there, trapped in the middle of a mythological drama.
It is the anguish of being oneself - an emptiness, a missing certainty - that is here tamed by the artist, through an open experimentation on the possibilities of a queer body: all connections, analogies, genealogies and rewritings are allowed.
The anachronism (the moustache: a quote from Dali?) becomes a method that awakens the founding and unifying force of the symbol to bring about new communities, pleasures, games.
Paradoxically, European painting shows itself surprisingly plastic: one would say that it easily accepts to be hijacked, and that it is only by our laziness (and social reproduction) has become a fixed normative space.
As if the canons of European painting (the love scene, the murder scene, the war scene, etc.) were just waiting to welcome a foreign visitor and become the playground that @cyber_yuyu finds there.
The official painting becomes a stage for a drag performance that destabilizes the "truth" of sex and reveals how cultural codes are constructed.
In the end, @cyber_yuyu is part of a time that belongs only to him (he is neither in the painting, nor out of it), a playful time that defies all chronologies and that, by the power of art, can be shared, put in common.
@cyber_yuyu shows that it is not enough to denounce or criticize the norms that regulate our behaviors and our ways of being.
We need to invent alternative and combative identifications - resisting dominant patterns by performing forms of eroticization and sensitivity that deactivate gender and racial stereotyping. @cyber_yuyu takes on the task in a way that is both clever and hilarious.