The artist LuYang – nominated Artist of the Year 2022 by Deutsche Bank – arrives in Milan with the DOKU Experience Centre exhibition at Museo delle Culture in via Tortona. Starting tomorrow, 14 September, until 22 October 2023, the rooms of the museum will come alive with 3D video installations and animated films that bring LuYang’s six different avatars to life. The characters in her imagery – which bear her face – clearly draw inspiration from video games, manga and pop culture, thus exploring themes such as posthumanism and transhumanism. Looking at the works on display, it is evident how dance is one of the central themes of her artistic practice. Avatars are intent on dancing to the background of techno songs, blurring the lines between real and digital bodies.
The title of the exhibition – curated by Britta Färber, Global Head of Art & Culture at Deutsche Bank – refers to the name of the avatar, Dokusho Dokushi, abbreviated to DOKU, which has six aspects, corresponding to its six declinations: Human, Heaven, Asura, Animal, Hungry Ghost and Hell. They represent the six realms of rebirth of Samsara, the karmic wheel of life that symbolises the eternal cycle of birth, death and reincarnation. LuYang not only draws inspiration from the contemporary world, but also from traditions and religions. The curator explains: «LuYang’s art is a combination of ideas that go back a long way. The artist refers to Hinduism, Buddhism, in one of the videos you will also see an image of a Catholic cathedral, all mixed with what we call pop culture. It is a new mix that can help us all see the world from a different point of view.»
One of the most interesting aspects of the exhibition is the artist’s choice to offer viewers a glimpse into the background of the creative process. As mentioned earlier, the six avatars bear LuYang’s face, expressions and movements. To do this, the artist uses Motion Capture technology, which is explained in the videos shown at the end. During the press preview, the artist presents herself wearing a mask, preferring not to appear with her face in the first person because, as she explains, «it would be as if the Disney characters jumped out of the video and suddenly entered reality, which I don’t want to happen».
The exhibition, just as the title suggests, is a true experiential centre. «The artist wanted it to be like an Apple Store where visitors enter and experience, touch with their own hands what is there,» comments the curator. This is indeed the case, you can even ‘play’ with the works using a joystick. But the real core of the exhibition, as the artist suggests, is the video DOKU the Self, the first narrative film dedicated to LuYang’s avatars, a visual work that explores the life and death of DOKU in each of the six Buddhist worlds. «The main concept conveyed by the video is about leaving things behind, letting them flow so that you can handle and cope with them. Just as a Buddhist saying goes, ‘if you can see your fears, you can also manage them’, and thus bring about a rebirth within yourself,» concludes curator Britta Färber.
The DOKU Experience Centre exhibition will be accompanied by a series of side events, including thematic guided tours, educational workshops, artist talks and meetings. MUDEC and 24 ORE Cultura are committed to promoting the language and themes of contemporary art on an international level, and this exhibition is a further step in their mission.