Kui

Radically insufficient, radically inadequate but extremely adorable. It embodies a folk instinct to usurp the creation myth, not to supplement the realm of the knowable, to help cement the canon, seal the coffin, but to destabilize knowing with a “what if.” 

Something familiar has been taken away from the body of this meek herbivore. Lines continue sloping down the neckline to form curves so smooth that another sense of familiarity starts to emerge. Our eyes keep wandering, scanning, scrutinizing. We are bewildered and enchanted. Why does it look so at ease and even cheerful? We struggle to construe the purpose of its being.

Is this how every first encounter is like or is this one especially janky? 

How intimate does it make us feel?

How much mutuality can we conceive?

How much politeness do we instinctively want to offer? 

We are just as lonely, as singular and as vulnerable in this recurring game of recognition, no matter how long has passed since mythical time. 

It’s not about what should be there in absence, but what we wish were there. The power of negation is a privilege, and a curse. Kui is tickled by our hesitation and is about to turn its head to cast a look back on us. We are utterly defenseless: normativity as the baseline has been subtly removed. 

Quintessential to the whimsical nature of folk wisdom is this kind of playful detour with reproductively handicapped but suspiciously lively creatures. They are not susceptible to the brutal laws of Darwinism, they are onto something else. They shock you by role-playing certain prototypes with a tiny dose of the uncanny, setting you off balance. Creatures like Kui go astray from their caregivers, ask you for help without words, their names are always the way they moo, every time you call they respond, and you’d die because you want to be good to them. Their violence is unintentional and non-retaliative. 

Seeing them you are pumped, doped, aroused, you invest in the sudden impulsive thrust towards what’s in front of you, the visual bonus, until you become subordinated and imprisoned.

There is something deeply queer about them, deceptive, dubious, resistant to being pinned down, not to legitimize the way you know things, but to put the brakes on the convention of knowing. They are the flawed, the wounded and the disowned ones, the ones you have already seen but not named. Your bewilderment is induced by a magic spell from the hurt ones.

Kui prepares you for the flipping of the script: What if the order to which you pay your moral debt and gain spiritual wages is merely provisional governance? The world you inhabit is losing its ostensible cohesion, you are still running up the hill of superficiality and but unaware of the abyss. The world is more different than you know. 

 

Macalline Art Center is a practice-oriented site focused on contemporary visual inventions. The Center engages with artists and art groups by building physical and online communities through events and research. The Center is guided by the working processes of artists, constantly re-defining and testing itself and renewing perceptual and cognitive systems in contemporary situations and contexts.