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The project focuses on the ambiguous relationship between flesh and spirit, aiming to deconstruct the entanglement of the two, sometimes distancing while sometimes influencing each other. The project also explores the interaction mechanism and breaking possibility of flesh and spirit. I combined secondary video materials and video monologues to explore various non-subjective connections between humans' outer self and inner spirituality, as well as the possibilities of self-imagination.


The inspiration comes from my plastic surgery experience. Before the surgery, I had self-examined my skin countless times and made my plastic surgery plan by the self-determined mutilation in the mirror. My symbolic identity changed after the completion of the surgery. Meanwhile, people around me commented that my personality changed along with the changes in my appearance. From my perspective, I could feel my inner self simulate numerous times to accustom myself to the new outer me, to reflect some inner desires. The action is to confirm the inner and outer consistency. As a result, a new self-identity was reconstructed and generated.


Lacan's theory of the three realms guides the film's narrative. The "spirit" is considered as "objet petit a" , and its reflection on the "flesh" consists of three levels and forms: Hysteria—The Real; Seance—The Symbolic; Painted Skin—The Imaginary. Hysteria is a sacred statement close to an ecstatic experience, belonging to the real enjoyment introduced by Lacan. Seance is the direct union of spirit and flesh through multiple rituals and cultures in the symbolic realm. While Painted Skin is an ancient Chinese fantasy story: the soul and the body are separated. The soul draws the outer skin according to its desires and imagination, while the skin is visible but is only a visual illusion. The story seems ancient and bizarre but has become a reality in modern times. People create and change their appearance through the narcissistic identity in their imagination. The film's three chapters are linked together, forming a Borromean knot, from the complete integration of spirit and flesh to the invocation of the soul by the body and distortion of the soul with the body. The three chapters intermingle, source and transfer to the others.


The final presentation of the work combines an Essay Film and Moving Poem. I interspersed the theory with my personal experience to tell a story of spirit and flesh in the modern context. Our "flesh" has been shaped by fashion trends and occupies most social media. The inner self has always been my study subject. I plan to use this work as my self-portrait to present my inner self as a modern person.

Director: Xuanru Wang

Medium: Film
Size: 00:07:04

© Xuanru Wang

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