Early in 2013 I visited Song Bird, JadeYu Fhang’s magnificent region, and home to her store, Dark Tears. During that visit, I primarily explored the ground level area, with its brilliant and evocative settings, only taking a brief aside to visit her skyborne gallery.
Now JadeYu has a new exhibit within the region, and it is as equally striking as the ground level design, although very, very, different in message and approach.
Roots and War offers two gigantic spheres floating in the sky and connected via a bridge of tangled, desiccated roots. Within one lays a scene of desolation. The roots connecting it with the far sphere reach inward, almost claw-like; smoke rises in plumes from the barren rock. All around a dead wind hisses and blows (you must have local sounds on to fully appreciate the piece), and a bell tolls ominously.
This is a scene of complete devastation, where the horrors of war appear to have visited, and where Death sits overhead, astride a horse, charging what might be the last of mankind while beyond, even the angels appear to have fallen.
Symbolism here is strong; atop the object containing Death is a woman, arms raised, and what could be the very Sword of Damocles hanging over her head, black butterflies dancing around it. Beyond the clouds of the sphere itself lay two gigantic hands, one of them menacingly clawed, seeking to enfold this world in their grasp.
Looking around this scene, I could not help but recall J. Robert Oppenheimer’s paraphrasing of the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita as he remembered the Trinity bom detonation, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds,” such is the evocative power here.
Across the bridge of roots, the second sphere is less ominous, although the desolation remains. The rocks are without fumaroles, the desiccated roots fewer, the place entirely absent scenes of destruction. The only clue that this is perhaps intended to be the same place, seemingly removed somewhat in time to that of the first sphere, lay with a single, half-buried sculpture.
If all this sounds dark and depressing, it’s not. Roots and War is a very enigmatic and powerful piece, one which will doubtless influence others in ways far different to how it impacted me. As such, it is a must visit installation.
And should you visit, and you’ve not been to Song Bird before (or even if you have, quite frankly), a visit to the ground level is strongly recommended.