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Deveron Projects

The Town Is The Venue
Why don't we have a gallery? Why don't we have a gallery?

Utopia Group

Palace of Puzzles

2009

Those who explain the Odes, may not insist on one term so as to do violence to a sentence, nor on a sentence so as to do violence to the general scope. They must try with their thoughts to meet that scope, and then we shall apprehend it
Chinese Classics
The Works of Mencius V Part 1 (1861)
James Legge's credo as a translator
Investigation of the legacy of James Legge, Chinese scholar and missionary through a town funeral

In 1839, James Legge left his Huntly birthplace as a missionary to the Far East. Believing that he had to understand those he sought to convert, he learned Chinese and began a lifelong study of the language and culture. Later, occupying the first chair of Sinology at Oxford, he published 50 monumental volumes of the Chinese Classics - including the scripts of Confucius and the I Ching. Legge understood the sensitive nature of reinterpretation with his work opening routes of exchange that instigated early modern globalization. So looking at our contemporary society, how has this process developed? What becomes lost in translation? How does cross-cultural dialogue allow each culture to enrich and contribute to one another? And how could Huntly celebrate this great man?

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As their name suggests, The Utopia Group are concerned with the notion of the ideal society. However, without idealising the modern world itself, they search for the seeds of utopia in reality. Engaging with the community of Huntly allowed the diverse array of residents to witness how their town has been, and still is, involved in global cultural exchange.

Their time in Huntly was filled with a full programme of events, dependent upon close collaborative partnerships with the people of Huntly such as the local church. Producing a 24-piece puzzle of charcoal images of Chinese text, Deng Dafei and He Hai hid the various pieces around the town. People joined the hunt to place the pieces back together, which formed a Chinese newspaper - one of Legge's cultural developments in China. The search for these fragments represented a physical manifestation of searching for meaning within a bigger picture, a concept that Legge was familiar with through his beliefs. This idea was developed in an exhibition of drawings, which took place in the house built and owned by the Legge family on the town’s main square. The exhibition contextualised the cultural, technological and historical developments of both nineteenth century China and Britain, but also contemporary Huntly.

In commemoration of the legacy of James Legge, his achievements in cultural understanding and their impact on the modern world, a funeral procession was staged in Huntly which drew from both Western and Chinese traditions of burial and remembrance. Local church hymns, Scottish bagpipes, newspaper confetti and banners written in Chinese calligraphy precluded the burning of a papier maché boat in the River Deveron, a local area associated with Legge’s childhood. That afternoon, a ceilidh and a discussion were held: The Legacy of James Legge: Understanding, Misunderstanding, Belief and Amnesia–China and the West. Speakers included: Natascha Gentz (Director of the Confucius Institute for Scotland), Norman Girardot (Lehigh University, USA), Gu Zhenqing (Curator Li Space, Beijing) and Glen Dudbridge (Emeritus Professor of Chinese, University of Oxford).

Shadow CuratorFrançois Matarasso

     

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