"BAD DOG" Cai Ruei-Heng Solo Exhibition
展期 | 2017 / 12 / 16 - 2018 / 01 / 21
地點 | Telling Arts | 疊藝術 台北市光復南路415巷40號
開放時間 | 星期一至日，下午1時至8時
我想成為一隻狗這件事，和我覺得狗和我自身處境有著異曲同工，相互矛盾了吧。 我和狗的身分交織混雜，成為狗但好像又沒什麼改變。尷尬混亂的狀態讓我創作出模糊不清的狗型，長得像我，既是狗又像豬又像人的。」 ── 蔡瑞恒
“I once had a pet dachshund. Every time I see how it lives life, filled with food, sleep, and walks, I feel envious of its simple and carefree life.
After the dog left, apart from missing my dog, I started contemplating the difference between dogs and me. Why do Chinese-speaking people often say, ‘live like a dog,’ or ‘as tired as a dog?’ Perhaps dogs have thought about changing our control over them? How do they react and express themselves when I become their source of pressure?
On the one hand, I envy my pet dog for its simple lifestyle, but on the other hand, I realize that the lives of dogs are as trivial as human life, with routine walks and fixed routes, limited food options, or mating. When facing pressure from a superior source and their own inability of changing the situation, the dogs rebel against their ‘masters’ with certain ‘bad behaviors’ to release pressure. This empathy towards a dog’s life makes me realize its similarities with my experience of working in a factory. Faced with pressure and various demands that cannot be met, the anxiety and restlessness turn me into a plane that may crash at any minute. To eliminate this discomfort, I perform small acts of harmless rebellion and games within my factory of creativity, attempting to create fraction and chaos within the system through humor and self-deprecating jokes, despite the fact that these attempts are unable to create real change; the system is so massive, and the nuisances are too small. Led blindly by rules and regulations, these catharsis and trouble-making attempts within the system are so petty and incapable of creating real change.
The fact that I would like to become a dog is connected with the similarities between my situation and a dog’s; this is indeed a paradox! My identity is intertwined with a dog’s, but turning into a dog would not change anything. These awkward and messy situations make me create blurred images of dogs. These dogs resemble me; they resemble dogs, pigs, and human beings at the same time.” ── Cai Ruei-Heng
Essay by Mr. Chen Home-Sing (Director of Unique Art)
Hungarian scholar Lukács György’s theory of Thingification was inspired by one of Karl Marx’s research papers. György believed that within a capitalist society, human beings are used as tools, becoming objects that can be controlled, deconstructed, manipulated, exchanged, consumed, and produced. In turn, these people are compensated for their labor.
With the commodification of the materialized contemporary human being, people reinvent themselves through commodifying themselves, leading to the deepening, accelerating, and strengthening of materializing people. Today, people are unable to control the process of being materialized; therefore, the relationship between humans and objects, the self and others, have become a major topic for the humanities.
Cai Ruei-Heng’s background of majoring in industrial management during his undergraduate studies has given him a deep awareness towards the process of being materialized. Therefore, throughout his creative career, Cai has always explored the subjectivity of individuals and humanity under material civilization, as well as the search for self.
During exhibition “BAD DOG”, the dogs created by Cai Ruei-Heng are presented with an obvious sense of anthropomorphism. The people under Cai’s brushstrokes resemble himself, while his paintings of dogs are like people who have a silly, childish, and obtuse smile. With these qualities, his works are not merely fragmented depictions of life but are further embedded with the depth of portraits.
It is now impossible for our contemporary world to escape the forces of being materialized or commodified; this leads to a relatively deepened sense of loss for individuals. The loss of self, the loneliness and alienation of urban life, late marriages and lack of love life, all lead to the unconscious projections of affection towards pets, which are in some way similar to children. To humans, pets are not only loyal family members but also a compensation for humanity in this material civilization, a thread of hope for us as human beings.
Through “BAD DOG”, we may sense a hint of balance between deliberate cuteness and authenticity, a quality of silliness amid the effort of portraying humanity through dogs. Through these creative works, Cai Ruei-Heng embarks on a movement of “non-resistance” toward life, reflecting on the absurdity of life with the absurd and gaining dignity and reason through distrust as a method to protect the self amid the currents of life.
A murmuring, witty, and solidary critique…, the sensitive soul of the individual. If you are touched by the silliness within Cai Ruei-Heng’s works, then maybe you are also the Diogenes of our contemporary society. When the sunlight is blocked out by significant figures, all we have to do is walk quietly away.