Artstrology: Aries 2021, Taming the Fire
By Pamela Wong
As Aries slowly recover from the hangover of the four-month-long Mars retrograde—a disorienting period that provided those born under this sign with extra energy but nowhere to spend it—they will finally stop chasing their tails and return to their truest selves.
Ruled by Mars, Aries is associated with fiery passion, bodily expression, and sexual energy. Undoubtedly sex is important for Aries. It represents much more than an act of intimacy—it is the life source. Thus, in the late Aries photographer Ren Hang’s photos of contorted nude bodies, one does not see sexual objectification or power play, as in Nobuyoshi Araki’s explicit images of tied-up women. Instead, Ren’s photos fully depict the joy of living, as well as the struggle of loving and existing on Earth, accentuated by his playful use of vibrant colors. In some of the photos, the female models are posed with live animals such as snakes and peacocks; other works depict erect penises in close-up. In Ren’s 2017 photo book, published by Taschen, he explained, “People come into this world naked and I consider naked bodies to be people’s original, authentic look. I feel the real existence of people through their naked bodies.” Women and men, close friends and famous actresses—these people appear to be full of life in front of his camera, as if each photo is an unabashed declaration of their varied forms of existence.
Aries wish to live the most unapologetically authentic life. They value realness to a point that they despise any suppression of self or obsession with fantasies, but their confrontations with reality can also leave them confused and sometimes disappointed by this complicated world. Living in New York since the 1970s, pioneering Taiwanese American artist Shu Lea Cheang was perplexed and frustrated by the stereotypes she was subjected to as an Asian woman in America. In the 1980s, she collaborated with the independent network Paper Tiger Television on an investigation into portrayals of women in mainstream media, broadcast in weekly live programs. In a 2018 interview, she described herself and her collaborators as “basically YouTubers in the 1980s, except that we had to fight to have our own voice and platform.”
Just as Ren tried to prove that “[Chinese] cocks and pussies are not embarrassing,” Cheang also created works about sexuality, body politics, and queer identity. Her feature-length film FLUIDØ (2017) imagines human carriers of a new HIV/AIDS biodrug that diffuses through skin contact. Responding to the social stigma faced by those with HIV/AIDS, which is transmitted through contact with infected body fluids, Cheang’s work instead “celebrates the unrestricted flow of body fluids” as a powerful physical expression.
As Aries season helps us locate our most real selves and expression, it is important to note that we may be surprised to discover hidden but equally authentic aspects of ourselves. For those born under the sign in particular, now is the right time to practice patience as 2021 is the year to nurture the seedlings of your dreams.
This article is written for entertainment purposes only.
Pamela Wong is ArtAsiaPacific’s assistant editor.