“I see… a cage. There is life, but it is trapped, trapped in a dark enclosure… It tries, but cannot escape...”
“I see a howling dog that becomes king. I see a doll that dances with broken limbs. I see countless staring eyes. I see clouds of ravenous butterflies of a thousand colors. I see pulsating lights. I see fear. I see pain, strife and yearning as deep as an abyss.”
40 years on, Yüan Meng Ch'ien, the sole heir to his family’s vast fortune, is still haunted by his ill-fated sojourn to the spirit world. Terrified of losing his life and wealth to unnamed, unseen forces of evil, he surrounds himself with the most bizarre talismans, trinkets and thingamajigs. Curios, knick-knacks, gadgets and gizmos, specimens of flora and fauna both alive and dead, crowd the rooms of his mansion and spill into the hallways and living room.
In 2012, through a peculiar fluke of fate, the island6 art collective inherited Yüan Meng Ch'ien’s breath-taking, jaw-dropping collection of oddities. In a never-before-exhibited display, island6 made plans to present "island of Oddities: The Yüan Meng Ch'ien Collection" in July.
However, just before the "island of Oddities" show was due to launch on Friday, 13th July 2012, the island6 art collective was faced with strange and never-before-encountered problems. Two crates of the collection were inexplicably held up at customs. Once-sturdy frames cracked. A trusty computer crashed. Two artworks fell off the wall. An important supplier fell ill.
Is it pure coincidence or something foreboding?
Modern, progressive-minded people - an electronic art collective, no less - should not believe in jinxes, hexes and the like. And yet...
Still, a series of events have led the collective to give the semi-aborted show a second go. The chief event being the unearthing of another chest of oddities in the attic of Yüan's brooding mansion by a member of the City Council. This latest collection, containing all manner of depravities, gives us yet another glimpse into the twisted mind of an extremely disturbed individual.
And so, in the darker sequel to "island of Oddities", island6 presents "The Secret Collection of Yüan Meng Ch'ien", where Liu Dao continues to showcase its signature fusion of traditional Chinese paper cutting, state-of-the-art LEDs, photography and video, as well as brand-new sculptural pieces. Behind whispers, closed doors and shuttered windows, we are collectively invited to plumb the depths of our perversions, obsessions and hidden desires.
50 Moganshan Road, building #6, 2F, Shanghai 200060, PRC