Region/Concept: East Asia, Movement
Sub-Concepts: Confinement, Stillness, Silence, Horror, Incarnation
Description: Artist Liu Xia arranges dolls in telling positions of interrogation, torture, and constraint.

There is a unique kind of horror that resides within pure stillness — an affect of negative awe that belongs to the unmoving/the unbreathing alone. The nerves run colder here, before the dreadful image of the automaton (the doll, the statue, the puppet, the scarecrow). Frozenness, paralysis, immutability: one cannot tell whether they are incarnations of absolute surrender (that they have abandoned themselves to some half-existence) or whether they embody a far more grave and perilous concept of inevitability (that within them lies the inescapable potential to someday begin moving). At night we fear these dormant forms, these figurines and effigies that dwell in our fields, our windows, our cellars and bedroom chairs. We fear the fragility of their hovering and strandedness; we fear the unreadability of their psychology (or lack thereof); we fear that the fixed, spellbound gaze is only momentary, and serves a greater final purpose (concealed for the time being); we fear that soon enough they will break loose and sway toward us (with restlessness and thirst), for they already live where we live. In truth, have we not always suspected some sinister volition being held in store, an alternative version of animus to be released at the right hour? Are these motionless ones not perhaps the rightful heirs of futurity…temporarily suspended, in waiting, half-wakeful, with stares like premonitions…and ever-positioned for an eventual overthrow of the world?

Jason Mohaghegh