Divination as a Form of Self Conversation|占卜也是一種自問自答

Mountain River Jump!, Cards of Chinese Animal Idioms: Legends in Human World, 2017, © Mountain River Jump! Photo: Courtesy of the artists 山河跳!《人間傳説之動物成語占卜法》,2017年,© 山河跳!,圖片由藝術家提供

Cards of Chinese Animal Idioms: Legends in Human World knows how to catch your attention. The art installation by Mountain River Jump! (Huang Shang and Huang He) has a screen rapidly looping forty-nine cards, each with a QR code that links to a reading. This original divination system is based on animal-related idioms and proverbs in Chinese. It does not follow any prevalent school of divination, nor does it relate to any religious beliefs. Yet audience members still find its readings accurate. For Huang He, divination never offers a direct answer but, instead, provides another type of consideration. Ultimately, the answer can still come from the inquirer. 


A photo of Mountain River Jump! (Huang Shan and Huang He), 2022, Photo: Katja Hellkötter and Jan Siefke (C*SPACE, Berlin), Photo: Courtesy of the artists「山河跳!」(黃山與黃河)合照,2022年,攝影:Katja Hellkötter、Jan Siefke(德國柏林C*SPACE),相片由藝術家提供

Before the 1990s, the young Huang sisters used to frequent the Chinese Folk Cultural Village, where their mother used to work. They developed a great interest in animism and later studied the I Ching from a Jungian perspective. According to Huang He’s understanding, the I Ching encourages open interpretation. Whether the reading is auspicious or not, it does not lead to a definite outcome, which then allows room for change. In this sense, divinations based on this text do not determine people’s decision making but remind them to think carefully, to make clear their truest desires, and to embrace more possibilities.

Inspired by the I Ching, the readings in Cards of Chinese Animal Idioms simply describe the state of people and things, prompting audiences to rethink their situation and to consider what they truly seek. Huang He sees this as a process of self-discovery. Once people clarify their innermost desires, the next course of action will come naturally. In divination, as in fortune-telling, a process of self-questioning and self-answering is often at play. 

Chinese Animal Idioms: Legends in Human World is displayed at the Festival Lounge.




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