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Goethe Institut Boston presents: Liu Wa and Yang Bao, “Savage Confessions” Multi-sensory Visual-soundscape

May 2-10, 2022 / Boston, Massachusetts

The exhibit Savage Confessions by Liu Wa & Yang Bao creates a multi-sensory and ever-evolving visual-soundscape through video, music and painting, seeking to heighten our sensuous receptivity to the more-than-human world.


The first part of the exhibit features two-channel video Late Night Savage which focuses on the day and night of three plants at nuclear sites in the United States, the former Soviet Union and China during the Cold War. The two artists embarked on an 11,000-mile journey to conduct field research in Washington State, U.S. and Gansu, China, and lived among the plants. As a symbol for the American West, tumbleweeds, propelled by the force of the wind, travel around to spread radioactive seeds at the nuclear reactor in Washington State. Sunflowers are now planted at Chernobyl, as a cheap corrective method to clean up the contamination. Camel grass at the nuclear city in Gansu, China, embodies the patriotic zeitgeist for dedicating one’s life to the motherland. However, both camel grass and tumbleweeds are invasive species from Russia that disregard land borders, freely traversing the landscapes. Genetic mutation caused by ionizing radiation speeds up the plants’ aging process, leading to an increase in its entropy. While living means fighting a losing battle against nature, the short-lived plants still display incredible resilience and savageness.


As a continuation of the video work, an installation of paintings titled Savage Confessions by the two artists captures their impression and imagination of the plants that they encountered on their journey. In the daytime, the plants dedicate themselves to fulfilling the obligations assigned by humans, but in the nighttime, they morph into phantoms and savages, dancing till the end of the world. The intent of these works is not to anthropomorphize the plants, but to “vegetalize” our human perceptions and question the man-made boundaries amongst ourselves.


The silent carnival of these nameless actors has never been alien to us. We are all savages.


170 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02116
Opening hours: May 3-5 & 9, 10am-5pm

Opening Reception: Friday, May 6, 4pm-7pm

Panel Discussion with artists and MIT faculty guests: Sunday, May 8, 5pm

Free admission to all events

This exhibit has been made possible by the generous support from the Art, Culture, and Technology program at MIT and the Council for the Arts at MIT.

Goethe-Institut Boston Studio 170
170 Beacon St
Boston, Massachusetts

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