Life through Xia’s Diary in Second Life

Diotima Art Gallery: Xia’s Diary

Xia’s Diary, currently open (for a little while longer, at least!) at Diotima Art Gallery curated by Red Bikcin, is an exhibition in images and words that offers reflections on life – both real and virtual – by Xia Chieng.

This is a thought-provoking installation in which Xia offers something of in introspection on her own life – how it has played out in Second Life, and how matters from her physical world life have informed her time in in the virtual and how the latter has caused her to more generally reflect on life as a whole.

My life has been intense, but I’ve never known where to fit. Opportunist and ambitious, my life has taken me to many places and to experience all kinds of situations, some good and some bad. Blinded by moving forward, never look around me or those left behind … When I looked at life through the camera, I felt that I could finally see it. Then he started a new path.

– Xia Chieng, defining Xia’s Diary

Diotima Art Gallery: Xia’s Diary

Twenty-one images – all of them avatar studies (although one has an aspect to it suggesting it might have originated in the physical world) – are presented in the exhibition. Most sit as individual pieces, although there are three that clearly form a single group, and three more are presented in such a way as to suggest they could form a set.

All are accompanied by Xia’s thoughts, the words provided with evocative titles such as Lost HopeOde to Emily, Broken Doll, and so on. They offer frames to the images over which they sit – and a windows into Xia’s thoughts and feelings.

These images are a document of my journey through life, RL and SL, I make no difference. Everything I do is part of my life. Many things are recreated in our mind with our imagination. Maybe it is a way of looking for a meaning and transcending many problems that torment us. A second life can be a second chance. 

– Xia Chieng, defining Xia’s Diary

Diotima Art Gallery: Xia’s Diary

The words, offered white-on-black are as clear-cut and unequivocal as their presentation. Evocative, provocative (as are some of the images), brutally honest, they offer the kind of introspection most of us probably prefer to carry out within our own heads (and most likely in a darkened room) well away from public display.

Thus, Xia’s Diary becomes something of a tour de force of feelings and responses in which we are cast into multiple roles. We are the voyeur and the emotional vampire, illicitly peeping in on the sometimes salacious, often poignantly deep, confessions from the heart and drawing from them. And given these are confessions – honest, down-to-Earth examinations of self, of hopes, of fears, of confusion of need – so too are we cast as the confessional-made-flesh, bearing witness to the opening of a soul. And because these are deeply personal reflections, so too are we given pause to hold up a mirror to ourselves and review who and what we are in life, both physical and virtual.

Diotima Art Gallery: Xia’s Diary

Intense, sometimes dark, expressive, and captivating, one of the more richly narrative and personal exhibitions I’ve recently seen.

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