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Sep 24 2021

Artstrology: Libra 2021, Temple Run

by Pamela Wong

Illustration by Amy Fan for ArtAsiaPacific.

Libras have been on Temple Run through most of 2021, chased by an invisible monster that won’t let them stop and catch a breath. For Libras to survive the rest of the year, they will need to equip themselves with both the flexibility to leap over obstacles and the courage to keep running.

As an air sign, Libra is analytical and tends to look into facts as they strive for justice and balance. This might be the reason for their inbuilt understanding of how information is manipulated. Photographer Sohrab Hura’s long-term project capturing the Dasara festival in Kulasekarapattinam, Tamil Nadu, is an experiment in distorting narratives to demonstrate different aspects of “truth.” A fast-paced video titled The Lost Head and the Bird (2019) juxtaposes surreal photos of crowds washing their festival masks in the sea at night with brutal images such as a woman being beaten and a man smashing a coconut on his own head. Hura’s photos are rapidly intercut with images from news, television dramas, and viral online videos, making it difficult for the audience to fully process what they are seeing. In Hura’s book The Coast (2020), these photos accompany a story about a woman finding her own head, which appears in 12 different versions. With the deliberate repetition of images and removal of text, the same photo might seem cruel in one section but comical in another. In an interview with Magnum, Hura brought attention to how our realities are constantly shaped by the manipulation of facts: “We might have a set of facts, but what we mould around these facts, and how, is what ends up constructing these realities.”

Although Libra is generally considered the most elegant and peaceful of the zodiac, some artists born under this sign are interested in examining different perspectives on and forms of violence. Japanese artist Makoto Aida, for example, depicts in Harakiri School Girls (2002) a group of miniskirted subjects stabbing themselves with katanas. Aida modeled the characters on the school girls he saw hanging out in the streets of Shibuya in the 1990s. During one encounter, he was suddenly reminded of “besieged warriors who have decided to commit mass suicide.” He explained that the kawaii gestures of the girls in his work are “not to demonstrate their innocence or virginity, but to depict the sense of decadence surrounding the Shibuya girls.” Other disturbing portrayals of female bodies compressed in a Blender (2001) and piles of dead businessmen (Ash Color Mountains, 2009–11) are respectively metaphors for Japan’s mass commodification and consumption of the female body and for the disaster that came after the economic bubble burst in the early 1990s. Through these paintings, Aida forces viewers to confront the brutality of human nature as well as the neglected social problems that lie beneath a harmonious surface.

With Mars in Libra since September 15 and 2021’s last mercury retrograde beginning on September 27, remember to be careful with interpersonal relationships, as it will be easy to get into verbal fights with others. Meanwhile, this period is a good time to review contracts, reflect on existing partnerships, and revise for exams.

This article is written for entertainment purposes only.

Pamela Wong is ArtAsiaPacific’s assistant editor.

To read more of ArtAsiaPacific’s articles, visit our Digital Library.

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