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Jul 21 2021

Artstrology: Leo 2021, The Tempest

by Pamela Wong

Illustration by Amy Fan for ArtAsiaPacific.

For Leos, their birthday season is usually their time to shine, but this year, most of them probably just want to hide. 2021 is an important year for all the fixed signs (Aquarius, Taurus, Leo, Scorpio), who are now figuring out the sudden changes that took place in their life, or lamenting the items or relationships they’ve lost along the way. Leo season is a pivotal moment, with the three major outer planets Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus forming aspects with the inner planets and going retrograde until fall. The transits might also initiate natural disasters such as typhoons and earthquakes, and back-and-forth negotiations in the socio-economic realm, making the season more dramatic than usual.

Although the sign is associated with drama—theatrical and otherwise—it does not mean that all Leos are attention-craving. Leos might appear extroverted but remain introverted at their core. Fluxus artist Shigeko Kubota, for example, had stage fright since she was a kid. Forced to learn piano by her mother, a pianist, Kubota struggled to perform it well in front of others, so she turned to other art forms that could be practiced alone, such as painting and sculpture. Notably, she was reluctant to perform Vagina Painting (1965), for which she crouched over a canvas and painted with a brush attached to her underwear, at the Fluxus festival; her fellow artists George Maciunas and Nam June Paik had to beg her to do so. Kubota preferred video to live performance, as the former was able to “have some sense of permanence” and “envision some shape.” In a 2009 interview with the Oral History Archives of Japanese Art, she also stated, “Video is a ghost of yourself. It’s like your shadow. It reveals your interior. It still exists after you die.” Her videos of Marcel Duchamp’s grave and her father’s last days capture these sentiments.

Just as Kubota valued the permanent quality of video, Leos obsessively accrue unique objects and document their experiences, as they consider these “collections” an integral part of their identity. Some Leos may even become boastful of their material possessions. Leo artist Danh Vō, however, takes a more critical approach to the idea of acquisition and commission. Vō gathers Roman marbles, paintings, furniture, photographs, and calligraphy created by others, and stages these objects in his installations. For example, All Works (2019), shown at the 58th Venice Biennale, showcases his father’s calligraphy, his former professor’s paintings, alongside photos of his nephew taken by his lover. In staging these objects, he demonstrates his control over these objects, highlighting the relationship between the commissioner and the creator. For his project Vo Rosasco Rasmussen (2002– ), he also collected names from the act of marrying and (immediately) divorcing his partners and friends, making their surnames a form of possession on official documents. For Vō, the artist is not only the maker of beautiful objects, but also the curator and owner of beauty.

Leo season will naturally lead us to focus on ourselves more than usual. It is important to remain genuine and honest with our feelings, but without being played by our ego. Resist the temptation to force others to meet your demands. This period also brings heat and passion, so watch your temper and try to end the month without burning everything down.

This article is written for entertainment purposes only.

Pamela Wong is ArtAsiaPacific’s assistant editor.

To read more of ArtAsiaPacific’s articles, visit our Digital Library.

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