Ying Liu practices motional meditation as a way to unintentionally ‘produce’ works of art. At Witte Rook she spent time each day doing one or two moves. The format of the movements being partially determined by the actual living and working space of Witte Rook.
Only as an artist am I able to produce and experiment with the things in my head, actions to which I would have no “excuse” to perform in real life if I don’t have this legitimizing identity.
The self as an artist
My artistic practice is mainly about decentralizing the “self” as an artist. I have tried various approaches to silence the artist’s mind, most of which can be formulated as “motional meditation”, as opposed to Zazen (a primary form of seated meditation). I physically and repetitively engage with various materials, from clay and yarn to music notation and garlic skin. The main point is to simply interact with the material without intentionally making an artwork. What results is not a predetermined expression of my “mind” and my “self”, but a byproduct of a process of abandoning the mind, and results in an artistic representation.
Under the strong influence of my mom, my artistic practice is essentially inspired by Zen Buddhism, the core of which is an understanding of the “self” and the “mind.”. This school of thought encourages a practice of abandoning the mind as the objective and normative “all-knower”, in order to reach a state of “no-mind” and find the “suchness” in the authentic being as liberation from suffering. This abandoning is a continuous moment-to-moment process.
Unintentionally producing art
Recently I am focusing on doing motional meditation as a way of unintentionally “producing” artworks. One room of the apartment I live in is left empty since one of my housemates moved out in the beginning of March, so I started to use the room as a working space where I am currently installing an installation by spending a number of hours each day sitting there and counting an endless amount of grains of rice.
I will be continuing the motional meditation in the residency space at Witte Rook where I can spend time every day focusing on doing one or two motions. The format of the motions will be decided partly based on the actual living and working space at Witte Rook and I might bring some yarns and other materials I worked with before to do some three-week-long tryouts. As the work I have made in the last year mostly took place in a domestic environment, this residency will encourage me to step outside of this domestic space , to relate to more spaces and to navigate new ways to practice in different spatial conditions.
If time allows
When I arrived at Witte Rook I decided to physically connect to the residency space by cleaning. Recently I have been inspired by a book I bought two years ago “A monk’s guide to a clean house and mind” which delivers the message that meditative quality is embedded in this mundane activity, I believe it would be a perfect time for me to practice cleaning in a place where daily cleaning is not considered my duty. By touching, wiping or washing, I have gotten to know each corner in this building much better than I did the day I arrived here, and I could somehow see the past of this place—the layered traces of oil paint that some former artists left on the wall and the floor, coffee drops dried on the table and some part of the garden that just had been dug by someone. Besides the cleaning practices, I spent the rest of my time in the studio space knitting without a design…
I have also cleaned the floor and windows in the working space of my fellow resident Fenna Koot, which enabled us to work together in a casual way. We realised that we share similar approaches in thinking about spending time with a certain material in the space. This resulted in a presentation with the title ‘If time allows’ in which visitors (by invitation) were welcome to experience the space the same way we did during these three weeks, by following instructions on papers notes we left beside our works.