“We focus too much on the surface of things. ”
b.1984, Tainan, Taiwan
Chen Yu-Ting is the brother of Chen Yu-Lin. Although he was raised in a religious household, he says, he has always been agnostic. Still, the question of religion nags at him. In On the Island, a playful set of Buddhist and local deities, “I was asking myself, What do I believe, what is my religion?” While Chen Yu-Ting still hasn’t found the answer, “the question makes me less uncomfortable now,” he says. The title invokes a parallel between the inhabitants of Taiwan’s many small islands, whose lives are constantly threatened by waves and storms, and human beings on their earthly “island”, surrounded by forces they cannot control. The sculptures are made from found and specially carved parts decorated with car duco, glitter, spray paint. “I deliberately used very cheap materials,” he says. “When people look at the works they will only see the superficial things: the Chanel logo or the fake diamonds.” Most of us view the question of religion in a similar way, he says. In a humorous touch, he incorporated “lucky” ratios into each work. Used by feng shui experts to design furniture, doorways, windows and tombstones, they are calculated with a special lu ban ruler. No. 1 in the series shows Mi Le Fu (a.k.a. Happy or Laughing Buddha) holding a yuan bao, an ancient ingot shape that represents good fortune; No. 2 shows Yaochi Jin Mu, an obscure Taiwanese goddess; No. 3 is Gui Dou Xing Jun, (a.k.a. the Star Prince), the god of literature and examinations; No. 4 is Guan Ping, a 2nd-century general revered as a god; and No. 5 is the bodhisattva Guanyin (Kuanyin), a Buddhist deity of compassion and mercy.