VITRINE | 道·斷袖 Dao: Duan-Xiu (Passage: The Broken-Sleeve)

VITRINE | 道·斷袖 Dao: Duan-Xiu (Passage: The Broken-Sleeve)

By Eric Chengyang

29 August – 01 October

Site-specific installation: HD video on loop, peach scented incense stick, incense ash, digital print mounted on mylar, metal chains, hooks, brass incense holder.

Dao: Duan-Xiu (Passage: The Broken-Sleeve) is an ongoing project by Eric Chengyang. It explores transcendent ideas and themes latent in different cultural histories, including notions of ephemerality, durability of memory, and the progression of semantics ascribed to visual symbols and languages. Mirroring our own understanding of and relation to history, the visual form of Dao: Duan-Xiu is fluid, as each iteration of the project changes its medium and presentation depending on the exhibition space. In the current iteration of Dao: Duan Xiu, created for Trinity Square’s Vitrine, Chengyang assembles a hybrid media installation by using video, research-based text, and an experimental sculpture consists of ready-made and custom-made artifacts.

“Duan-xiu” or “the Cut Sleeve” is a 2000 year old Chinese euphemism for (male) homosexuality. The term originated from a long passage in the history book titled Han Shu or the Book of Han, which describes the romantic relationship between Emperor Ai of Han and his male lover, Dong, Xian. Throughout history, the term was used in other Chinese literatures, and thus, it became a euphemism for “gayness”. 

Interested in how a historical story has evolved into a euphemism and idiom, Chengyang creates a hybrid media project which examines the relation between the past, present,and the future. Furthermore, Chengyang uses incense and smoke as a visual metaphor for the cause and effect,as well as the spontaneous variables occurred in the undercurrent of time. By looking into the properties of incense, Chengyang investigates the invisible links among seemingly distinctive, isolated cultural ideas and historic motifs. Finally, a glossary of terms is included in the installation as an alternative to an artist statement. The glossary introduces the key concepts behind the project in a nonlinear manner, and thus, allows the viewer to interpret the work in different ways.


Artist bio:

Eric Chengyang is an interdisciplinary artist of Chinese-Canadian background. Their works often challenge the conventional notion of East/West confrontations and cultural borders, and instead, focus on the proximities and overlaps between culturally distinctive objects, motifs, and stories.

Special Thanks:

The incense holder is a custom-made metalwork handcrafted by Charlize Nhung. It is painted by Chengyang with a design based on the mural decoration in Cave no.45, Mogao Caves.