Life Is An Unknowable Journey: An Interview With Huihui

On 01/05/2018 by Doki Gao

Huihui once walked 2,600 kilometers on foot to Beijing. It can be seen as a kind of performance art. His activities crossed between music, performance, and art. He thinks that life is an unknowable journey. In this case, he counts time and distance with his body to resist the passage of material memory.


“Escape” is a “male” vocabulary

Doki: In 2007, you “escaped” from Yunnan and walked 2600km north to Beijing. Do you take it as a performance artwork?

Hui Hui: Nobel Prize author Alice Monroe said in “Escape” that for some people fate is destined to be an unpredictable journey. Everyone thinks that my way of thinking is not correct. The reality of the hardships makes me question to what extent I can confirm myself, but I think that “running away” is a male vocabulary. For men, solitude is nothing compared to death; but death is not worth mentioning compared to the emptiness of spirit. From Sakyamuni to Gauguin, power or affection can’t make a “breakthrough to the other side” of destiny.

I started the journey from Zhaotong, walking about 30 kilometers every day. From early spring to early summer, crossed Sichuan, Shanxi, and Hebei Provinces, passed through many either prosperous or declining cities with strong Chinese characteristics. Hiking is an ancient way of measuring. Counting time and distance with the imprint of the body, the marching pace is consistent with the pulse of nature. It is inconsistent with the tempo of modern civilization. Nowadays, the sense of panic over time has basically deprived people of any sensory experience other than vision. The eye is the lens and the brain acts as a memory card. In fact, a mountain, a river, and a land are fresh, unique, and exist with a temperature naturally. This is a work that is related to life more important than art.

Doki: A lot of people who like rock music know the “Kuafu Band”. It was also a very brilliant musical period for yourself. Does leaving Yunnan mean that you’re going to leave the band and bid farewell to your musical era?

Huihui: The album “The Fire of Heaven” was released in 1997. This was an unexpected thing that happened in an expected time, and there will be no further outbreak of youth hormones. Putting down “Kuafu” is a rather slow process. The golden age has disappeared. This is something that individuals cannot control.

Concept and dislocation

Doki: Before you started to paint again, you did a series of “cross-dressing” performances that look pretty enchanting and psychedelic.

Huihui: “cross-dressing” is a chaotic state of hermaphroditism due to dislocation of clothing and gender. I like to create an attractive element for the audience in terms of perception. Sex is physiologically clear, but psychologically it is not an all-or-nothing proposition, which is confusing. Because the world model given by schools and families is binary opposition, there is no grey zone in the dichotomy. I lead the audiences into a wickedly sensual atmosphere that looked vaguely familiar to them. However, the audiences were desperate to discover that the values and ethics experiences were gone. Eroticism is not for money, music is not for entertainment, and the instinct to seek answers will allow them to hope for answers from the master. After repeating the same piece of work for 240 minutes, I gradually fell into a state of hypoxia and the performance continued to evolve into an unconscious mechanical repetition. Without authoritative judgment, there is no inertial induction. The audience is confused and then thinks independently. The collective unconscious is expelled.

Doki: Your “finger series” paintings continue the practice of asceticism. It seems quite dense and unfriendly to me.

Huihui: Some art critics think it should belong to “action painting”. In fact, I’m not certain. I am only obsessed with the way that the body expresses the limitations and thus indulges in the consciousness of psychological experience. This is related to my growth experiences. I am an existentialist. Performance is purely subjective. Pain, enthusiasm, desire, eroticism, ambiguity, ambiguity, ridiculousness, and vacillation. In the process, my middle finger’s skin was thin to transparent, bleeding, mixed with paint, and continued to grieve with the canvas until the pain was unbearable. Disappeared temporarily. Millions of frictions, nearly a hundred broken and hesitant struggles, eventually proved that the practice of attempting to erase fingerprints was a futile battle against the eternal rules.

The performance practice is only an incomplete abstract moment in the process of creating the artwork. The painting is a way of recording. The result of a communication process is like Armstrong’s footprint on the moon. The truth is destined to be heavier than aesthetic. I always fantasize about a stinging form, really expressing time and attitudes, and facing the bleakness and roughness of nature. Life is endlessly cumulative and repetitive. Whether sad or happy, long-term or short-lived, it is the best way to massage the soul.

Art is a subconscious destination

Doki: Do you use definitive image sources for your subsequent abstract artworks?

Huihui: I’m not only interested in the single portrayal of certain specific images. I try my best to connect the works with the concept of excavation. Painting is the result of observations and meditations on intuitive objects, such as a plant, a place, etc. I extract and retain an element, either the color or the shape, the breath, the sound, etc., from the features that I perceive… and then trying to pass it through in my paintings. This is an ambiguous way of creating. I had developed corresponding logic for myself from the outset, and when I was painting, I was completely controlled by the induction of subconsciousness. The work was independent from my subjective cognition. With the help of scientific methods, people can break the natural distance boundary of vision, seeing a distant, clear and specific world. But this can neither change the existence of material ontology nor bring creative pleasure to the viewer. When I look from the perspective of a third-party to the unknown where the unknown light shines, the feeling is amazingly unspeakable.

Doki: I heard you’re preparing your new album. It’s been 20 years since you published your last one. Will there be any significant changes in your music style?

Huihui: People will have unexpected joys and sorrows at different life stages. I’m used to expressing ideas in unexperienced ways. For me, behavior, painting, photography, and music are always the means to serve the concept. Sometimes, technology is shameful. It is close to reality only when it is not obsessed and admired. My music cannot be isolated either, which is a bit disappointing for me. I refuse to define the style because it will inevitably suppress some wonderful possibilities. I love to use the classics and minors in my memory as material, through choreography, deconstruction, reorganization, giving up rhythm, mode, and melody, and everything gains new freedom. Some words are sung in my own language, with the intention of eliminating the vocabulary and the vocal line. Sometimes I use keywords as clues, and narratives and romance are clearly narrated, getting used to following some regularity. The emergence of programming is the result of evolution. Rules and frameworks are only suitable for those who go by the book. They are the bacteria against freedom and will not stop breeding.

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