The Saints Wear White



February 2020 - Duyi Han designs a chapel that pays tribute to coronavirus medical workers.


The project sees the interior walls and ceilings of a church in China’s Hubei province – where the epidemic began – transformed into a large mural depicting figures dressed in white decontamination suits.


The project takes inspiration from the historic style of church painting and fresco. However, instead of illustrating biblical scenes of saints or deities, the mural shows the everyday medical workers who are selflessly putting themselves at the frontline of the virus, covered by masks, gloves and full-body suits.


The work pays homage to the anonymous doctors and nurses who are crucial in aiding those infected. They risk their own lives and work long shifts, often having to skip meals and sleep on the hospital floor. These medical professionals are those whom people rely on and put their faith in. They are the heroes and saints during the time of a crisis. With recent reports of mistreatment and improvable work conditions of medical professionals in China, these people deserve higher regard.


As an art form, fresco painting is powerful in invoking the emotion of respect and sublimity. In Hubei Province and especially Wuhan, Western influence brought in churches and church art starting from the 19th century. In this context, Duyi Han chooses to use this religious architectural and art form to celebrate and advocate for secular life-savers. To Western and global viewers, a church in China may challenge stereotypical cultural assumptions – it guides people to focus more on the essential content (medical workers) and not the country itself as an exotic entity, especially at a time when the disease invokes racism and xenophobia. The work may help people around the world feel emotionally touched in a common way and unite together. Therefore, it is both locally relevant and globally understandable.

 白衣天使在人间 随着新型冠状病毒的传播范围与影响逐渐扩大,韩笃一设计了一座“教堂”,用艺术向守在一线的医务人员表达敬意。 该项目将处于疫情中心的湖北省的一座教堂的室内——包括墙壁和拱顶——变身为一组巨大的绘有身着白色防护服的人物的壁画。 该作品的灵感来自于教堂传统壁画。然而,这组壁画中并没有任何的宗教圣徒或圣经场景;取而代之的是与时间拼搏,夜以继日地将自己置身于疫情之战最前沿的,身着口罩、手套、全身防护服的医务工作者。 该作品向这些叫不出名字的人们表达敬意。他们冒着生命危险,长时间守在工作岗位,经常无法按时吃饭,有时只能在医院里的地板上睡觉过夜。他们是患者们所依靠和寄托希望的人,是危机中的英雄和圣人,如天使般降临在危险的第一线,拯救人间的病患。 作为一种艺术形式,宗教壁画有着强大的唤起崇敬感受的作用。在湖北省,尤其是武汉市,因受历史上的西方影响,教堂和随之而来的教堂艺术自十九世纪开始有规模地出现。这些西方建筑和艺术元素是今日湖北与武汉的复杂文化积淀的其中一小部分。在这个背景下,韩笃一选择用这样的来自于宗教的艺术形式来歌颂现代世俗中拯救生命的人。对于一些西方和国际的浏览者而言,“在中国的教堂”这一事物或许可以打消文化上的刻板印象——尤其是当疾病引发了种族歧视和排外情绪的时候,它引导人们更关注作品的核心内容(医务工作者),而不是一个异域般的国家本身。这有助于世界不同地方的人们在一个有许多分裂和对抗的时代里受到同样的感动,并团结起来。因此,这件作品在内容和形式上既与本地高度相关,又在全球范围内容易理解。

This work has appeared or been featured on numerous platforms: The New York Times, Forbes, CNN, Vice, Marie Claire, Vogue, Adobe, Bienal São Paulo, Elle, MSN, Architectural Digest, Art Tribune, Designboom, Courrier International, 1st Look, Qiio Magazin, The National UAE, The Indian Express, Le Quotidien de l'Art, iFeng, among others.


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