The Departure Point of InnerScapes:
Health nurturing and health preserving are central concepts of Chinese culture, perhaps the only notions that have been able to resist and survive the attacks of time, of high-speed development, and of class struggle. No matter if in the more abstract and theoretical fields of philosophy and medicine, or in the more pragmatic realm of everyday life, for the Chinese health nurturing is a necessary practice, a duty towards oneself and society allowing the individual to fully express his humanity.
Since ancient times, the Confucian school of thought created a detailed set of advices on everyday health, in order to guarantee the longevity of both body and soul by emphasizing the notion of inner balance. The quest for eternal life was also epitomized in many Taoist writings, that as in the case of the Confucian classics, presented a series of effective health-preserving practices aimed at prolonging life and enhancing its quality, both from the physical and psychological pint of view. Portrayed in a huge portion of Chinese art, translated into a precise behavioural vocabulary, notions related to the construction of one’s health, no matter if consciously or unconsciously, have been absorbed by various generations of Chinese people and still today are embodied by simple yet archaic gestures.
The Chinese, especially the ones living in the Southern part of the Country, pay an almost maniacal attention to the quality of their daily diet: they prefer to use ingredients that are almost medicaments themselves, and that are functional to the organisms. Therefore eating is not just a question of self-enjoyment but of self- nurture. Form of exercise like taiqiquan, qigong, Chinese box and martial arts are never conceived as pure physical exercise; on the contrary, the actions these exercises require stand for the concentration and calmness of the mind that has been able to produce them and translate them into physical gestures. At the same time Chinese medicine is known for its non invasive approach, being an instrument that is aimed at reconciling the individual with the cosmos he actually belongs to. The holistic approach dominates every realm of Chinese culture, and requires any human behaviour related to the social, personal and political spheres to synchronize with the rhythm of nature. Human beings have to evolve and behave in tandem with the pulse of nature, and when what they do diverges from the spirit of the natural world and its cosmic rules, then diseases of any kind would happen.
I approached the Meridian curatorial project with these simple yet unfathomable truths in mind. The main idea was presenting a project able to embody the fil rouge still existing not only between tradition and contemporary life in China, but most of all between the individual (and its microcosm) and the outer context (the macrocosm everyone is immersed in and is an active part of). The choice of working with Marike Schuurman was natural; the choice of her series of photos “Rising” was a direct consequence since they perfectly suit both the topic of Meridian and my curatorial direction.