回 - Radical Return
Burning 元宝 yuanbao (“gold ingots” made by folding colored paper) has been practiced as one of the essential rituals during Chinese funerals and grave visits. One of the many ways of folding, unique to each family and passed down from generation to generation, creates a crease that incorporates an inner box—forming the character 回 along with the edges of the paper. Through the action of folding paper, a common and affordable material, people communicate their desire to provide for and to bestow a comfortable or luxurious life upon the deceased. By practicing this simple and participatory ritual, the bereaved show respect and return any favor given to them.
Radical Return is the first group exhibition presented by Radical Characters, a study group and curatorial project that explores the relationship between design and culture in the Chinese and Chinese American community. The selected work features 36 Chinese and Chinese American artists and graphic designers who, using 回 (to return, to turn around, to circle or to reply) as a grid—visually and conceptually, explore acts of return through language, tradition, memory, identity, and history. They work across a range of media to embrace, challenge, and expand what it means to “return” in their artistic practice and in relation to their positions in the world today.
exhibited at the Boston University Art Gallery (Stone Gallery), Boston, USA | NOV 8 – DEC 12, 2021
exhibited at IS A GALLERY (一弄画廊)， Shanghai, China | NOV 20 – DEC 20, 2021
Photo credit: Tony Luong for BUAG and Junli Chen for IS A GALLERY