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a neo-deity for facepalm days

Spiritual beings and great figures are believed to be the guardians that keep us safe and away from evil. Guanyin, known as the bodhisattva of compassion, is often prayed to during times of challenges and dangers. Guanyin, short for Guanshiyin, translates to "Observing the Sounds (or Cries) of the World". Buddhist legends say that Guanyin made an oath to worry about all beings until they are free from suffering, and in their journey to help, their hands began to be torn apart. Guanyin was then given thousands of hands so that anyone who asked could receive help. Each of the thousand hands are given eyes – which allowed Guanyin to observe all that happens in the world. This bodhisattva appears not only in the image of a woman (or originally, a man), but has many faces and can be transformed to the appearance desired by whoever sees them.

As we currently live into our second year of COVID-19, Fäcępåłm – a figure created through a gathering of blowup rubber hands – acts as reference to the latex gloves that became common uniform, the ‘breath’ that now invokes fear of illness, as well as a personification of Chinatown helping itself during times of crisis. Many individuals in Chinatown have found mental empowerment through prayers, while equally many found ways to look out for their neighbors and friends. Each person was a “helping hand” for one another.

Fäcępåłm is created for Neon Was Never Brighter 霓虹閃爍愛華埠, the inaugural contemporary arts festival celebrating the fortitude and history of Chinatown.

Neon Was Never Brighter: A Glimpse Into the Future
800 Grant Ave, San Francisco
April 30, 2022

Commissioned by Chinatown Media & Arts Collaborative (CMAC)
Curator: Candace Huey

Listen: Chinatown arts group aims to become an economic engine – SF Chronicle

Each hand glows with a warm light, drawn with faces and messages that bestow each with its own unique meaning and character.