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The Ecdysiast



"The Ecdysiast" comprises three works titled "Prickles (One Meter Line)," "Touch (Security machine)," and "Molt (body inspection)," creating a scene of solemn and humorous "Security Control."


The device the artist sets up first forces visitors to pass through a tight "cactus passage," consisting of stanchions adorned with cacti. Following this "dangerous" passage, the visitor's body is transported on a massaging bed as they enter the "Touch (control machine)." Ostrich feathers replacing the curtains gently caress and tickle the body.


Hidden inside the machine, a calm artist's voice, accompanied by meditative music inspired by Yoga, provides relaxing instructions.


A surveillance camera scans and exposes the visitor in real-time under the gaze of others.

After this step, the visitor can finally dive into a triptych of "musical comedy video": "Molt (body inspection)," . The dancer and the controller respectively interpret "bare life" and the pinnacle of the power machine through burlesque striptease and mechanical dance. The choir of 15 people, similar to a Greek chorus, represents the ideal spectator, assumes its critical function but also constitutes a cynical crowd. Several silent sequences are inserted into the scenes. The spectators are surrounded by the fixed gazes of the three screens. The spectator, in situ the fourth dimension of the installation, integrates into the panoptic theater.


The Ecdysiast takes its title from a term originally coined by H.L. Mencken, meaning to ‘molt’, a word envisaged as a replacement for the word ‘stripper’. Here, the description can also be considered within the context of our contemporary condition and today’s state of affairs: the increasing scrutiny on our individuality as it becomes exposed to tighter systems of collective control. Seemingly benign in appearance, these systems operate in spaces of ambiguity where a suspension of law occurs. Behind the gentle gestures belies a logic of forced compliance, something so routine to our daily lives that its violence eventually has become imperceptible to us. Theatrical and burlesque, Yao brings to our attention the absurdity, but also the ambivalence of our tacit assent to the situation - subverting this logic by imagining a new form of play through her satirical imitations. 

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