Harald Gsaller - Do you practice Taiji? / G9


“Do you practice Taiji?” 2010 (photography, video)
When I asked some young urban Chinese in Shanghai whether they were practicing Taiji, all of them answered “No!” When I insisted and asked “Why not?” all of them – without a single exception – replied “I have no time.” Discovering (mental) traces or relics of Daoism in the everyday lives of the
Chinese seems to be a hard job for a foreigner (if one leaves out the widely known images of every-morning practitioners in public parks, the majority of them being now at least in their forties). Still, the spiritual and cultural heritage of Daoism, Confucianism as well as communism seem to be / must be deeply mingled into every aspect of Chinese life, from the surface to the innermost parts. When I follow a bicycle driver whose bike is heavily loaded with poles of bamboo, on his way across the ten lanes of Yan’an Road, the traffic lights for him at green, not hindering countless trucks and taxis to race by, both of us, him sticking to the traffic and me sticking to him, follow, consciously or unconsciously, the Four Principles of advanced Taijiquan: Getting in contact with; adhering to; staying in touch continuously; and following.

G9 (2007/2010) (text, graphics) In “G9”, Gsaller tells us about China’s (fictitious) infiltration / takeover of the G8 (group of leading industrial nations) in 2007. This takeover is presented in the
form of a triptych that plays with the shapes of numbers 8 and 9 and of letter G (the extension from G8 to G9) and with the graphic entities of full and disconnected circles, the latter recurring to the ophthalmologic testing of visual acuity or, more profanely, to the voracious Pac-Mans of early 1980ies computer games. The color scheme and the text fragments of the triptych set out from the foundations of European/Western hegemonic rhetoric in simple black-and- white (concept of simplification by domination), only to be gradually replaced by contents and concepts of ancient Chinese stratagems and daoistic considerations on efficacy, with yellow
progressively superseding the white (recurring to the Western hemisphere’s fear of the „yellow peril“). “G9” was partly inspired by French sinologist Francois Jullien’s “A Treatise on Efficacy. Between Western and Chinese Thinking”.