Photograph courtesy of the artists
Dreaming With: Mountain River Jump!
In the lead up to the Triennial opening, our Dreaming With Q&A series provides an exclusive glimpse into the artists’ lives and studios.
Where have you been during the lockdown?
We have stayed in Foshan, a Chinese city famous for Kung Fu masters and Cantonese Lion Dance.
"We really enjoy cooking Glühwein." Photograph courtesy of the artists
Is there anything you have found yourself cooking a lot of, and if so, would you be open to sharing the recipe with our readers?
We especially enjoy cooking Glühwein, of course, we make a DIY version of it. Heat red wine with cinnamon sticks, orange peels, apples, and sugar. It tastes even better if you use white wine instead.
What are you reading?
The Psychology of Superstition by Gustav Jahoda. Intriguingly, he pointed out in the book that superstition is a common phenomenon that exists widely in human society [to this day]. It is an unavoidable part of our daily behavior.
What music are you listening to?
The mantra of Medicine Buddha in Sanskrit. The chanting voices help calm us down in the midst of uncertainty.
Have you seen any particularly good digital exhibitions in the past few months?
Museums and art institutions reopened in the summer here in China. Digital exhibitions seem to be less impressive than real ones, so far. However, remote meetings are as fun and inspiring as sessions in real life.
What do you find yourself working on most during quarantine?
We finished a paper in psychology during quarantine by sending out questionnaires through the internet and analyzing the data (153 valid responses). We suggest that superstitions are cultural. In the decades-long materialism-dominated modern China, it may be viewed as something fresh and novel. The investigation shows the personality trait of openness is positively related to the frequency of divination.
"Mountain River Jump! preparing to livestream a remote divination workshop in conjunction with 'Participation Mystique' at Ming Contemporary Art Museum, Shanghai, in September. Photograph courtesy of the artists
How has your studio practice changed in recent months?
We spend more time exploring unfamiliar fields. Inspired by a method believed to have originated in the Tang dynasty, Huang He tries to record the instantaneous moments of the flowing ink on paper and assumes the pattern can trigger free association in the viewer’s mind. Huang Shan is learning to use SPSS Statistics, which is a tool utilized in social science, and expects to combine our artistic practice with data analysis in the future.
Have you created any art in response to the pandemic?
Yes. Mountain River Jump! made a new video showing some natural symbolic elements at a fast speed. It invites viewers to hear from the call of animism.
"Our cat sleeping at home. We appreciate the instinct of animals." Photograph courtesy of the artsits
What artists most inspire you?
Sun Ra and Moondog.
What are you most looking forward to about participating in the upcoming inaugural Asia Society Triennial?
We can’t wait to see the strong spirit of diversity and confidence told through the power of the arts.
What do you most want viewers to take away from experiencing your work in the Triennial?
We hope they can leave with a smile after experiencing our work :)
Has your perspective as an artist changed in the midst of the pandemic?
During the pandemic, someone may start [asking]: is art useless in such an extreme situation? However, we believe that there are still meaningful interactions between viewers and artists. Mutual encouragement is more important than ever.
Are there any fun facts about your practice you would like to share with readers?
According to the viewers of our divination works, synchronicity happens out of the blue. We ourselves also come across some interesting coincidences when playing those divination games with the viewers. It goes beyond our initial intention.