White Box Gallery
Curated by John Jay from Wieden + Kennedy
In the summer of 2009 I was invited to participate in the upcoming White Box Gallery Grand Opening exhibition, Inspiration China. Each artist was asked to create a piece of art inspired by an assigned Chinese artifact from the Portland Art Museum’s collection. I was given a mingqi, an item that was placed in the tombs of the dead to protect them and in many cases help them in the spirit world. During the time these items were used in China, the Chinese believed that there were two parts to the soul; the Po and the Hun. One of which leaves the body after death and other of which stays.
At the time Mingqi was being conceived, my research centered around torture and the kinds of things people do to each other in order to discover the truth. I became interested in the idea of using self torture as a means of soul purification. So I started a faux company called Mingqi and branded it, in many ways, as a mix between a new age religion and a product sold on an infomercial. The clean graphics and bold color of the logo hid what was in reality a very dark business model.
The final product came to the consumer in the form of two white packets, labeled The Po and The Hun. With vinyl stickers attached to the front, the packets came complete with instructions, a CD, a DVD, a sleep mask and ear plugs.