Same-sex Love: “Frog in the Well” Looking for A Wider Sky
08: 30-08: 50 CET 28/05/2021
The self-taught papercutting artist Xiyadie’s works reflect the shifts in his sex/gender awareness. In 1998, he moved to Beijing to make a living. In the same year, he began using the artistic alias “Siberian Butterfly.” The bustling Tongzhi scene in Beijing became his safe harbor. According to Xiyadie, the Siberian butterfly that survives in harsh climate, stands for his pursuance of beauty and freedom, despite repressions against the queer community. Xiyadie was born in Shaanxi province, where papercutting tradition has been preserved from the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 CE). The region was officially recognized for its cultural heritage in the late 1980s. Xiyadie subverts the traditional papercutting paradigms and uses papercutting techniques to express his queer erotic imagination. In his works, human and nature merge into one. The vitality of “tongzhi” (queer people) is shown in its overlapping with lush flora and fauna. Many craftsmen would pile up sheets of rice paper when creating traditional papercuttings, whereas Xiyadie works occasionally with newspapers and silk. He dyes the different editions of his papercuttings carefully by hand. Xiyadie compares his papercuttings with a pot of tea, which awaits his friends to take a sip and enjoy its flavor. Even though Xiyadie had been suffering from distress and feeling helpless in the repressive social environment, he never surrendered. The artist finally realized that the relationship between humans and “ziran” (nature/human nature) is that of mutual nourishment and mutual restraint. However, one should rather let “ziran” take its course and take things as they come. Falling in love with same-sex partners is as if picking a different flower. Some people like red flowers for their energetic look, while others prefer the white blossoms for their purity and flawlessness. Why deprive the people of the rights to express themselves differently? Why does difference cause discrimination? Xiyadie hopes to share his true feelings and his works with friends, particularly with those who have suffered from social oppression: Love fearlessly! We have the right to become ourselves. My best wishes are with you, my friends.
Xiyadie studied at the Henan School of Arts and Crafts and worked in the craft department of the Xi’an Film Studio. In 2010, his first solo exhibition was held at the Beijing LGBT Center. His papercuttings were exhibited in numerous art institutions around the world, including the Flazh!Alley Art Studio in the U.S. (2012), the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities and the National Museum of World Cultures in Sweden (2012), the Tropenmuseum in the Netherlands (2015), Gallery Verbeeck-Van Dyck in Belgium (2015), Para Site in Hong Kong (2015), and Long March Space in China (2019). Xiyadie participated in the first and second edition of the international queer art show Spectrosynthesis at MOCA Taipei (2017) and the Bangkok Art and Culture Center (2019). His works have been acknowledged by various media platforms, such as Hyperallergic, BBC, Los Angeles Times, Global Times, Shanxi TV, Oriental TV, CCTV, et alors, and Advocates. Xiyadie is a member of the Chinese Folk Literature and Art Association and the Shaanxi Society for the Study of Literature and Art.
西亚蝶曾就读于河南工艺美校，并曾于西安电影制片厂的工艺部门工作。他的首个个展于北京同志中心。他的作品曾参展曼谷艺术文化中心（2019年）及台北当代艺术馆（2017年）的《光合作用：亚洲当代同志议题展》。他的作品也曾在北京长征空间（2019年）、香港Para Site空间（2017年）、安特卫普Verbeeck画廊（2015年）、阿姆斯特丹热带博物馆（2015年）、哥德堡世界文化博物馆（2013年）、斯德哥尔摩东亚博物馆（2012年）、美国圣佩德罗Flazh!Alley艺术工作室（2012年）。关于西亚蝶的报导散见于Hyperallergic、BBC、洛杉矶时报、环球时报、陕西电视台、东方卫视、央视、et alors?、倡导者。他是中国民间文艺家协会和陕西省民间文艺家协会的会员。