Jun 25 2021

Artstrology: Cancer 2021, Opening Up

by Pamela Wong

Illustration by Amy Fan for ArtAsiaPacific.

Mars’s stationing in Cancer from late April to early June has kept us battling with our emotions, or bustling without purpose. For Cancerians, who dislike the spotlight, the transit brought unusual attention, gossip, heavy workloads, and even chaos. This Cancer season provides a chance to take refuge and recuperate, just as those born under this sign like to retreat to the safety of their shell.

Cancer’s surface-level sociability hides a self-protective reluctance to open up to others. Likewise, Hong Kong artist Trevor Yeung prefers to watch from a distance. As he explained to ArtAsiaPacific: “My practice is based on observation . . . You can tell by looking at my work Artist Studio Party (2012) [a photograph of a couple kissing projected onto a gallery wall] that I always put myself in an outside position, and take a step back to investigate the overall circumstances or relationship between people.” Yeung also incorporates plants, living animals, and found objects in his projects to explore the intricate relationships between different elements of the environment. His Enigma series (2015–18) consists of framed photographs obscured by fabric and plants. The obstruction pushes the audience to find a better angle from which to look at the work, which distorts the typically uneven power distribution between the viewer and the viewed.

As Cancerians mature, they become aware of the limitations of their shells, as well as the boundaries of their material reality, understanding that there are things outside of their control. Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul explores the idea of self-confinement in Cemetery of Splendour (2015), which depicts soldiers with a sleeping disease that causes them to be trapped in their dreams. The female protagonist, Jen, who is a female volunteer taking care of the soldiers, falls in love with one of them and is eventually dragged into his hallucinations. As she becomes attached in the relationship, she too struggles to distinguish dreams from reality. In an interview with Rain magazine, Apichatpong explained, that the film “speaks about the existence of other realities, the need to escape from boundaries—time, rules and beliefs, nationalism, and so on. In the end, when we realize about the possibilities, we also realize we are trapped.”

Breaking out of our own shell requires us to learn first to sit with our emotions, and to be honest with our feelings. It may be triggering or even painful to go through the process, but it is only when we embrace ourselves that we can experience the world fully. This is the lesson that Cancer season is trying to teach us, so when dramatic Leo month comes we will be ready to shine as our authentic selves.

This article is written for entertainment purposes only.

Pamela Wong is ArtAsiaPacific’s assistant editor.

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Artspace SOTHEBY'S E-flux ACAW Massimo de Carlo Opera Gallery SAM Silverlens RossiRossi 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art