In back of the back – About the Exhibition Passing Through The Post-Garden

Written by Chi Chien

In a narrow alley, cars come from two opposite directions and get stuck in the middle. No one is willing to surrender, like the two goats standing with unyielding persistence on the narrow bridge. Meanwhile, the passerby find a meandering path among the cars to squeeze through the bonsais on the both sides. These bonsais are in various sizes, all waiting for the blossom… On my way to the studio, I always pass through these narrow alleys – which even become narrower because of the bonsais put on the alleys. These bonsais on the alleys create an image of a “garden.” It is the reality, the form, and the cultural measurement to battle for space. It is here to demonstrate and to occupy.

A “garden” is what one fancies for after the devastating war. It is the margin of the authorative system where the public and the pravite intevene each other.   No matter the system is as small as a neighborhood or an internaitonal conflict, there is no way to separate “land justice” from political power. Jasmines, wild lilies, sun flowers… — flowers belong to nature, and flowers are the sexual organs. In many cultures, flowers symbolize not just women but also the absolute sacrifice of women.[1] We can say that every garden is humans’ “paradise lost.” It signifies the origin of humans, the beginning or everything.[2]  According to the dictionary, The English word “garden” has two meanings.  One is “an area of ground where plants (such as flowers or vegetables) are grown” and the other is “a public park with flowers.”[3]  Here, I add a prefix “post / back” in front of the word “garden,” so the back garden, a private space not open to the public, can also be realized as “post-garden,” an ambiguous term which cannot be specified.[4]

In the “post/back” garden, even though humans conquer Nature, we still can neither define the world nor the certainty of life. Flowers will always be flowers, just like airplanes will always be airplanes. Airplanes “fly into view,” but the reality of “flying into view” transforms the visual imagination. The action of imagination is “time.” It takes nothing more than our intuitive perception to understand “time”.  Meanwhile, it watches how we observe everything simultaneously and how a situation is created among all these things.

Airplanes fly through the garden. The presence of body exists in the gap of time. It is the criticism, mockery, or religious evocation between the contact and the self.   It corresponds to the spiritual reflection in a grain of dust, the life derived from stone brick, the alchemical imagination, and the sudden realization when seeing the flowers in Buddha’s hands.[5] A boy is playing outside the house. The plane in his hand is being released from gravity and soaring freely among the flowers.

When the airplane passes through the garden, if you are not inside the plane, then you are hiding behind – in back of the background.

[1] “A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a garden locked, a fountain sealed.” Quoted from Bible (Song. 4-12)
[2] “And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed.” Quoted from Bible (Gen. 2:8).
[3] Here, I use the first definition of “garden” as a comparison to my exhibition in 2014 Prima Facie Exhibit : Park, held at Crane Gallery, Kaohsiung.
[4] Footnote by translator: in Chinese, “post” and “back” are the same word.
[5] The story of “Buddha holding up a flower and Kāśyapa smiling” comes from Zen kōan, a collection of parables used in Zen practice; the ancient alchemy , in Carl Gustav Jung’s theory, is an imagination of Nature based on one’s spiritual development.