Longevity: Scissors and Sickles 2002

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The duality, ‘continuity and change’, can be interpolated as a feminist strategy to review past histories and contemporary feminist paradigms. Feminist artists have deployed the ephemeral as a device to investigate the paradox of changing yet enduring female principles. There are several sources in Taoist practices and iconography for the conceptual origins of this trope, principally in feng shui, calligraphy and the yin yang symbol. Research that investigates a dialogue between the two forms rarely exists. Located in Vietnam, the public sculpture Longevity: Scissors and Sickles by Bonita Ely synthesizes traditional Taoist imagery, the gourd, and Taoist structural form, the Chinese lattice, with local Vietnamese sculptural methods, to construct an experimental cross cultural representation of feminist sentiment. Here the symbolic gourd is the vessel constructed using bronze casts of women’s work tools, scissors and sickles, to signify both a continuity of tradition and its severance. Political rupture and war are symbolized by the sickle, while the affirmative contributions of women in contemporary Vietnam are represented by scissors. These symbolic vessels arguably emphasize spatiality as a Taoist vehicle for meaning that signifies the feminine principle. The significance of the work Longevity: Scissors and Sickles is demonstrated by its commission from The People's Committee of Thua Thien Hue Province, Vietnamese Ministry of Information and Culture and its installation as a permanent public sculpture in the city of Hue, Vietnam in conjunction with Impressions of Hue 2002: The Third International Sculpture Symposium.
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Ely, Bonita Ann
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City of Hue
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