Artist poses nude with father's remains

By Chen Xia
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, April 10, 2019
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A screenshot of Siyuan Zhuyi's post on Sina Weibo, showing himself posing nude alongside his father's 30-year-old remains. [Photo/Sina Weibo]

A Chinese artist provoked mixed reactions online after photographing himself nude alongside the remains of his long-dead father during the Qingming Festival, or the Tomb-Sweeping Day. On this important annual occasion, the Chinese honor their ancestors, typically by cleaning and sprucing up family graves.

"On the Qingming Festival, I opened my father's grave," wrote Siyuan Zhuyi, who tagged himself as a photographer, on the social media platform Sina Weibo on April 6. 

According to Siyuan, his father died 30 years ago, at the age of 28. The grave was weather-beaten, so he decided to move it to another location. "I also had a selfish wish," he said. "I wanted to take a photo with my father's remains."

Siyuan Zhuyi was 3 years old when his father died, so he had no memory of him. He cherished two photos, and said, "I resembled him very much."

In the long article Siyuan posted online, he wrote that he had "a peculiar feeling" when he lay beside his father's bones. 

"The contrast between life and death and between father and son was distinctive," he said. "With the sunshine on me and my father, I had a peculiar feeling I'd never had before. I think it was a sense of detachment. The world was tranquil. There was nothing in my mind. Time stood still." 

"Nudity is the primitive state of human beings. Why should I have clothes on when my father has no skin or flesh?" he said. 

However, the series of photos, taken by the artist's wife, launched a heated public debate as soon as they were posted online. While some people showed support to the artist, some thought that he acted out of narcissism. 

Weibo user Youluxuan, who also tags himself as a photographer, wrote, "I'm sorry, but I really don't understand. If I describe it as 'fresh art,' I think I stain the word 'fresh art.' … This just makes me suspect you are twisted."

Another Weibo user Fulangxi Siji wrote, "Some people call their actions 'art' just to hype themselves up. … These works show no skill at all. (We are able to do it, but we dare not and are unwilling to do so)" and questioned, "What's the worth of these works?"

But Siyuan also got support online. Weibo user Jianfeng Shijie, who tags himself as a designer, wrote, "It's acceptable for a photographer who lost his father in childhood to lie naked beside his father like a carefree kid. I like the work. I'm deeply touched." 

Another Weibo user Cuteee wrote, "It will be difficult to understand if you only read the title, but if you watch the full video, you will find it's a special commemoration and a special experience of life and death."

In response to different reviews, Siyuan said, "Maybe only those who have really experienced death can understand."

One day after he posted the photos online, Siyuan's Weibo account, which had over 12,000 followers, was closed. Many of his previous photographic works also contained nudes and skeletons. 

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