A collaborative exhibition by artists Makoto Chi and Lauren YS (previously featured here). “5 Poisons” features 28 pieces ranging from small works on paper to large-scale paintings in acrylic as well as a site-specific mural installation. Drawing inspiration from their mixed-race East Asian heritages, the collection immerses viewers into the artists’ explorations of identity. The title refers to an ancient Chinese medicinal concept representing five poisonous animals: the centipede, scorpion, frog, snake, and spider.

“Mid-year is said to be an inauspicious time, as these poisonous animals emerge from cold slumber; along with them hostile spirits, disease, and often, enemies. During this time, talismans inscribed with these animals, sometimes with the addition of a tiger to ward them off, were worn as protection. Some ingested tinctures infused with small amounts of poison, believing that ‘fighting poison with poison’ could combat the threat of the five beasts or other malevolent spirits.”

Lauren YS and Makoto Chi take up these concepts through anthropomorphized, hybrid-mythic figures that consider the paradoxical use of force in our social movement spaces and intimate relationships. For example, the desire for violence or revenge in one’s quest for justice which highlights the fraught nature of our attempts to work together toward transformation. Makoto and Lauren’s works present multi-layered entry-points into illustrated psychosomatic universes, seeking to question as much as to answer: Whose poison do you drink? Will you be aware when your medicine turns noxious? How do we keep loving each other in a hostile culture? 

The show opens tonight at Arch Enemy Arts in Philadelphia and is up until April 28!

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