Media: Cooked sweet rice & bambooware
The food culture of “rice turtle” has greatly influenced my life. I will even say that it is my “aesthetic prototype.” The influence not only comes from a beauty object, but how “someone has made something beautiful with both hands.” When I was a kid, I observed how the master made rice turtles. Therefore, I have learned about “modeling” since then, including the substantiality of shape, the precise lines, and the rich colors.
From the aesthetic perspective, the beautiful object “rice turtle” remains in the stages of “imitation” and “representation” in traditional art. However, if we take a look at its concept and the choice of materials, it is very close to contemporary art.
“Sharing food” is the essence of the food culture of “rice turtle.” While one shares the “rice turtle of peace” with everyone, it creates a “relationship” with others through “eating/contact.” From the perspective of modern art, an artwork is unique and exclusive in a collection-oriented system. Even though an artwork is shared with everyone in public exhibitions, it does not mean that the work can be owned by all of them. Instead, the traditional culture of “sharing food” offers us a very different imagination. The form of the work is unique for that “someone has made something beautiful with both hands,” while the concept of the work features sharing rather than possessing. The choice of materials suggests that the work will eventually disappear (being eaten). It thus denies the eternality of the work.
Sharing, disappearing, and non-eternality have changed the existence of the work and its relation with viewers. Viewers not only touch the work but also own the work in a special way. Meanwhile, the whole process is documented as an “event.” People will remember that day when they have shared some food together instead of the real object. It is how I believe contemporary art should be. I want to criticize the sanctification and monopolization of art by questioning how we consider artworks to be commodities.
Glutinous Rice Turtle is a performance art project based on my interpretation of “sharing food” in the food culture of “rice turtle.” Although the space, where the performance art took place, was full of unpredictable situations, I still presented the work as an extension of how artists “contacted” with others. The final work is not an end, just like the sharing food culture of rice turtle is still part of our lives.