human suit

TH, Traje Humano is an artistic proposal that delves into the duality of the tangible and the intangible, the visible and the invisible, the physical and the immaterial, of the human being. Through 29 large-format works and multidisciplinary artistic expressions, painting, sculpture, installation, video, design, Man Yu and his invited artists reflect the historical attempt of humanity to verify their abstract truths, their souls, with the ephemerality of their creations, knowing that the essential cannot be verified by itself without physical interventions that seek to prolong, decipher, each particle of its expiring materialization full of realities without an answer to the question that is repeated insistently in each of the works: " What are we?".

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The first work in the collection was made in 1987. Man Yu, immersed in this premature reflection, materialized this dense and abstract concept for the first time when he was just 9 years old. However, it was not until 2013 when Man Yu felt the call to delve again into this recurring question and be able to reveal it through his brush. The first human costume was painted as a helpless outlet, but the other works are the work of transforming this catharsis into poetry and communication.

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More about the project here

Processes with invited artists can be seen in detail here

Circuit route and Human Suit subprojects here

Critical and curatorial texts about the project here

Photographs of the activities on social media

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HUMAN SUIT

Year: 1987

Technique: oil on canvas

Dimensions: 60 x 50 cm (23,6 x 19,7’’)

 

I painted something a little disturbing for any 9-year-old girl: A size medium leather suit hanging on a hanger next to a wooden cradle in a dark corner of a room. I knew that the skin was just a suit and that my real-self rested in the crib, which at first sight, was empty

–Man Yu.

Many works in the show used the same elements from the 1st Human Suit artwork that Man Yu painted as a child. Human skin represents the body that touched us. The clothes hanger represents the ephemeral time that sustains our physical life. Apart from these elements, Man Yu also added new ones that are not found in that painting, such as bodies in gray tones, which represent our metaphysical bodies, the true "me"; red threads, which represent the blood that make the mechanics of our "suit", and needles that mend our "human suit." All the works, the 29 oil paintings on canvas, indicate that there is something essential inside our skin. On the other hand, elements such as the mirror and the desks, are more than works, didactic resources that allow the viewer to be framed within the reality of the artist and the context of conceptualization of the message exposed in the works.

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Some paintings such as "Liberation", "Goodbye", "Attachment" point to the body as a prison and subtly suggest internalization to free us from the false identity that limits us. Likewise, they reflect how this need for liberation is sometimes a reason for separation. of two people who have different positions before their costumes.

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In contrast, works such as "The Kiss", "The Hug", "Falling in love" reveal that the body is what proves all existence, that only through bodies can we love, separate, express love. In addition, they reflect the harmony in which people are on the same plane of self-recognition of their costumes.

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Some works, such as "The Portal", "Materialization", "Power" and "The Lineage", describe our desire to possess this sophisticated "suit" to experiment, do, be and evolve, since, without it, how can we be able to exist on this plane ?, as well as reflect the great value of having a suit. But at the same time, there are works such as "Una Completa Desconocida", "La Otra Cara", "La Tercera Opinion" and "De Shopping 1", which warn us about the deceptions and illusions that the "suit" causes when perceptions and Decisions are based solely on material, earthly aspects of being.

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On the other hand, works such as "De Shopping 2", "The left glove", "Right glove", "A New Pledge", explicitly show the very basic concept of the recognition of one's own "suit", empowering the capacities that are given to us. awarded with the human suit. On the other hand, some works such as "Protección", "La Caída" and "Somnolencia" were created to describe strong and inexplicable feelings that transcend the physicality of people. Other works such as "The Perfect Plan" and "The Perfect Suit" delve into the satisfaction and fullness of being aware of the functions of the suit and the function it fulfills in our existence, understanding that the perfect suit can be one that does not exist, thus like the one we were given, whatever it is.

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Man Yu also sows existential questions with creations such as "Sentence", "Some Open Eyes", "The Dilemma", which start from the perspective of the soul or of an ethereal aspect, to raise the questions of how important is the physical existence?

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the message

Human Suit is a psychological, psychic, emotional, spiritual input, beyond the current scope of modern science, closer to the quantum aspect, which promotes going beyond the physical eyes. This artistic proposal suggests the search for an inexplicable truth that could only be revealed through silence, observation, and introspection.

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Human Suit originates from bullying. From this it is urged to recognize that we are beyond the physical aspect that usually conditions us and for which, often, we are socially discriminated against for different characteristics: sex, color, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, social class. Given this self-recognition of the human body as only a "suit", it is possible to understand that, although some of these characteristics condition us, they do not really define or limit us. For example, as a person, when an arm is missing or has other limitations at the brain or body level, Man Yu compares it as having a torn or incomplete uniform on, perhaps it does not comply with the label of certain spaces and does not serve us to work in certain occupations, but that does not infer any aspect of our essence or our true identity, it does not make us less valuable as people; it is simply the suit with which he touched us in this life. "I want to remind you that we are and we are inside" Man Yu's words.

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Consequently and in contrast, that "suit" also has many advantages and abilities in different contexts, so that, by giving that recognition, we can empower ourselves with that "suit". Man Yu often explains with the example that a firefighter uniform could look ugly, uncomfortable, heavy and hot, and we could complain about wearing it every day, not knowing that it is actually a special and very powerful garment, which serves to save lives. Likewise, when discovering the capabilities of the “suit” we can be aware of our purposes, of the value it has and the importance of taking care of it.

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In addition to this aspect of self-recognition as an individual, it is also raised to understand that the differences in postures before the Human Suit cause affinities and / or differences in interpersonal relationships, so that if two people are not in tune at the level of purposes of life or how they feel about themselves, there may be breaking points in your relationship.

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In this way, although bullying is used as the initial theme of the collection, Traje Humano covers themes about the recognition of the different layers of being, including, in turn, all social issues such as discrimination, racism, sexism, sexual orientation; interpersonal issues such as breakup, love, complicity, empowerment, submission, control; among others that may derive from understanding that as human beings we are very complex, much more than the skin we wear.

 
Based on questions about the ephemerality of current artistic endeavors in the contemporary context of communications, technology and rhythm of life, Iris Lam, cultural project manager, explains that it is necessary to exhibit the works of Man Yu and his guest artists in such a way. way that the message really reaches people. This implies the maintenance of attention in the exhibitions through activations that invite the public to visit the galleries and museums of the circuit.

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Thus, the exhibition circuit Human Costume exhibits a series of works that invite viewers to a deep introspection on the reasons for existence, starting with the self-recognition of our skin as just one more layer of our reality. However, Man Yu makes explicit that the fact of recognizing it as a merely physical aspect does not diminish its importance, because it is through this that we are given the ability to evolve through the experiences that can only be lived by owning a suit. human.

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Likewise, by delving into the fact that the differences that generally divide society are of purely physical or material origin, the Human Suit project attacks discriminatory social problems, including xenophobia, racism, sexism, homophobia, discrimination due to disabilities, image, among other types of discrimination, having different human suits. In this way, since these problems are imminent from all times and places, Traje Humano contributes to minimize them to create a more positive sociocultural environment for the development of people, especially in response to the manifestations of hatred that have been evident between 2018 and 2019.

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On the other hand, the circuit format in which the Human Suit project is developed encourages the creation of inter-institutional, inter-organizational and inter-artist work networks, which increase the dynamization of culture and creativity. This allows, through networking, the different entities can contribute from their different natures and possibilities to the expansion, deepening and dissemination of a single humanistic, social and spiritual message.

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Likewise, the inclusion of artists from different disciplines (visual arts, installation, video, design, performance, music) contributes to having a more integrated vision of the different arts. This allows the artists themselves to explore the possibilities of joint work around messages that can be communicated in different artistic languages ​​and, therefore, have greater depth in audiences that are more related to one artistic expression than to others.

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In this way, guest artists such as Diego Esquivel, with his videomapping piece, reinterprets Traje Humano on the work "The perfect suit"; Helen Núñez and Julián García work on video art together with Man Yu social concepts to which we humans are tied and conditioned from the suit that we were given; Vernny Argüello develops audiovisually a script by Man Yu that delves into the virtual layers that are positioned above the human suit; as well as Cristian Esquivel, Estefanía Madrigal and Niaballet dancers interpret the heaviness of the skin and physical existence through performance.

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Likewise, the musicians Ronald Bustamante, Leonardo Gell, Marcela Membreño and David Castillo, perform as guest artists in different activations of the project, along with the performance and singing of Laura Barquero. And aside, Zoe June Zeegelar, Rogelio Fernández, David Castillo, Andrea Rojas, Alejandro Peinador, Alana Peinador and Abbie Chang collaborate with their interpretations in front of the video arts camera.

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The contributions of these artists are aimed at deepening and broadening the message of Traje Humano by complementing the pictorial work of Man Yu, and are an official part of the traveling exhibition project together with the collection of 29 oil paintings.

 

activities calendar

 

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01/11/2018 al 16/12/2018

National Gallery, Costarrican Center for the Science and Arts, San José

Official exhibition of the Human Suit Circuit that stays at the National Gallery for one and a half month. Guided visits and conversatories will be holded about related topics of Human Suit with professionals of different specialties as special guests. The 28 pictoric artworks will be showcased together with various installations and the 5 videoarts and the videomapping.

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01/11/2018 19:00

Official opening of the Human Suit Circuit

 

With Nía Madrigal guest performance artist, in addition to videomapping by Diego Esquivel and live music by Laura Barquero.

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16/11/2018 17:00 - 21:00

Art City Tour route

Guided visits by Man Yu and Diego Esquivel.

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13/12/2018 19:00

"The Human Closet" Fashion Show

The closing of the exhibition period will take place with a catwalk where 40 designs developed by fashion designers from the Universidad Creativa will be exhibited, who will base their creations on the Human Costume concept, guided by Rob Chamaeleo. The fashion collections of Laura Vargas Tuk, Pamela Vargas, Joselyn Lam, Kendry Guido, Maureen Berrocal, Tatiana Marín, Yorleny Artavia, Jimena Sanz, Gimena Ramírez, Cristi Blanco and Sheyla Palma are presented. At the same time, Nía Madrigal and her Niaballet team, together with Cristian Esquivel, present their introspective performances with the catwalk.

“With Human Suit, the idea is that people can recognize that this skin we wear is one more layer, a clothing, a garment that we had to wear. I wanted fashion designers to be incorporated precisely because it is on a catwalk where a garment is officially validated as a garment. For example, a rag, a sack, a piece of cloth, is socially accepted as part of clothing only when it goes through the validation of the fashion industry ”highlights Man Yu.

Likewise, it is about the concept being able to reach as many people as possible, and, understanding that we all have different artistic affinities, it was important to incorporate into the fashion design through which messages could be communicated through a sartorial language, reaching So to more people. In this way, young talents who explore with impetus their artistic expression through fashion design become another means, with their tools, like me, with mine, to communicate a universal message.

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27/01/2019 al 25/03/2019

Cartago Municipal Museum, Cartago.

The exhibition moves to meet other audiences, especially conservatives, in which the artist with her works intends to broaden the vision and conceptualization that viewers have about artistic nude. The sample stays for 2 months in which conversations and guided visits will be held on topics related to the Human Suit with special guests. The 28 total pictorial works of the Man Yu collection are presented, as well as some of its facilities, the 5 videoarts directed by Vernny Argüello, Helen Núñez and Julián R. García and the videomapping by Diego Esquivel, as well as a new work pictorial of TH, Re-Born.

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27/1/2019 11:00

Opening of Human Suit in Cartago

 

With the invited artists of Nia Ballet with Juan Dahik, Diego Esquivel and Cristian Esquivel for two acts of performance, videomapping and live music.

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30/03/2019 al 24/05/2019

TEC Center for the Arts, Cartago

A special curatorship of 14 of the 29 works of Human Suit is presented in the gallery of the Center of Arts of the TEC, to meet with the university public, in formation of critical positions in the immediate national context.

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04/04/2019 al 26/05/2019

Cultural Center of Spain, San José.

Group exhibition "Trajines" that unfolds its concept in the deepening of the different experiences, daily life, perspectives, stories, experiences that people develop involuntarily and conditioned to their Human Suit, their skin. The exhibition will have 1 installation by Man Yu and 10 guest artists from different artistic and style disciplines who will present their introspections related to their own "costume": Ángel Lara, with sculpture; Juan José Durán (Monsieur Durán), with fashion illustration; Alejandro Rambar, with paper design; Andrés Valverde (Hydroponic.me), with photography; Helen Núñez and Julián García, with video; Vernny Argüello, with video; Diego Esquivel, with videomapping; and e the outstanding designers of the TH catwalk, Sheyla Palma Hay and Yorleny Artavia, with fashion design. Cristian Esquivel presents his performance with Evo.

As a play on words, the exhibition has the title "Trajines", referring to the coincidences and causalities of life and hustle and bustle "meaning of the word trajín" that leave their mark on people, at the same time it is expressed as diminutive of the word suit, reflecting how small the difficulties become when they are overcome. The exhibition emphasizes personal experience.

In the exhibition, Man Yu exposes an installation that reflects an interpretation of his external and internal experiences related to a childhood taken away by bullying caused by “dressing” a human suit different from that of others: a suit of an Asian girl in the School Católica Activa, in San José, 1987. In addition to showing the “trajín” of Man Yu, other artists are invited to do introspection and share their own “trajines” associated with their “human costumes”, that is, to tell those stories that from aspects of their physical existence, of their human attire, influenced their decisions and course of life.

In this way, as a collective exhibition, it has the function of representing the unity, network, parallelism, correlations and affinities of humanity, through similar stories found among people who do not necessarily know each other, but are connected. “Trajines” originates these meeting points, reunion, identification and reidentification, with themselves and with Man Yu, making this network visible where we are all connected.

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04/4/2019 19:00

Opening of the group show "Trajines" at the Cultural Center of Spain

With the performance by Cristian Esquivel and videomapping by Diego Esquivel.

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17/05/2019 19:00

Coffetime with Man Yu: Videoart projection and conversation with Man Yu in the TEC Center for Arts

A coffee afternoon with Man Yu to talk -in a more comfortable way- about the whole creative and productive experience of Human Suit, the collection and the circuit, after the large-screen projection of videoarts developed in conjunction with Vernny Argüello, Helen Núñez and Julián R. García.

 

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10/07/2019 17:00 - 21:00

Art City Tour route by the Cultural Center of Spain

Man Yu guided visits.

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14/06/2019 al 21/06/2019

Beijing World Art Museum, Beijing, China

A special curatorship of 14 of the 29 works of Human Suit is presented at the China Millenium Monument, in the Beijing World Art Museum, as an official Costa Rican representation at the 6th Latin American and Caribbean Art Festival in Beijing.

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30/08/2019 16:00

Performance/happening in the public space, Francia Park - Skawak Plaza, Barrio Escalante, San José

Man Yu this time tries to shake passersby in a public space, with a disturbing performance / happening also referring to Human Suit Man Yu has been recruiting participants openly so that the event is collective, participatory, inclusive and intuitive. "I am not this garment" aims to follow the same aesthetic line of the series and at the same time allow participants to freely project themselves in the various social, psychological, emotional or spiritual reasons that motivated them to be incorporated into the artistic proposal. The content of the performance / happening is completely surprising, so Man Yu invites you and invites everyone to witness or be part of this unforgettable work of art, experienced or inexperienced, professional or natural, regardless of their physical qualities.

I am not this suit", the performance work of this great closure, is the name of this simple act of many people who exhibit their human costumes, in a place visible by the public, without taking refuge after a constructed identity, representing the collective consciousness as a single being. Some of those who participate, do so for unconditional love of art, others for living that unique and unrepeatable adventure, but many, the majority, do so to face themselves either physically, socially, psychologically, emotionally or spiritually.

 

Each participant battles against himself, his fears, his demons, in a moment so critical, so vulnerable and at the same time free, that they have nothing left but to love and cling to themselves as being and not as a body. It is expected that participants or spectators can release their human trajines, even for a very short time during the construction of the work. However, it is not known what each person will feel, there are endless possibilities. My role as an artist is to offer some tools, to set the stage indicated, so that collectively and individually, we can all experience for a moment, the Human Suit effect.

With the special presentation of Antisentido and  Evo.

 

critical and curatorial texts

Francisco Brives, Co-director, Museo La Neomudéjar, Spain

Human Suit

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In a girl's mind, fantasy and innocence can build an embroidery machine. Sewing must have been something that Man Yu, like so many girls, was instilled in by ancestral education. This nine-year-old girl painter reflected on who she was, what happened between her inner self and the one they dressed and undressed every night. In the certainty that every childhood treasures is that of recreating a personal and unique universe. A language that flourishes without obstacles or social conditioning. Therein lies the freedom to be yourself and have or create your own language.

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Man Yu's painting speaks of that trip to Ithaca, the childhood and innocence that we leave behind throughout our lives and that we lose without realizing it through lived experiences. The Return to Ithaca of Man Yu, goes through re-visiting those languages ​​that he created in his psyche, still clean, not corrupted. This work unintentionally evokes "The Steppe Wolf" by Hermann Hesse who claims the purity of men in the face of the corruption of society that perverts them. For the Man Yu girl, the reality was clear, every night her skin was another clothing added to that of the fabrics, she could detach from it, to immerse herself in the astral.

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Some reminiscence of a pure spirituality emerges in the woman who is now Man Yu. The key that allows him to exert a quantum action and bend space-time is a drawing that he painted when he was 9 years old, found on a visit to his mother's home. The work named in this exhibition begins on a vibrational journey related to string theory, a universe that folds and takes us back to childhood. Man Yu's painting is meticulous, very precise in its technique and with certain traces of contemporaneity that give his drawings that way of doing and leaving undone, which so masterfully alludes to the current trends of the last 20 years of drawing. Man Yu immerses himself from this primary idea, in each of the layers or clothing that society has been imposing on us. A desire to rescue the very essence of people beyond their context of race, gender or social position. Man Yu lives in a class-oriented Costa Rica, a country marked by an inheritance of affection for the whiteness of the skins, a necessary remote idiosyncrasy of a Hispanic colonialism that does not manage to remove its skin from "the Lineage" to look inside.

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The races do not exist, there is only one race, the human. Man Yu appeals to this unique backbone that unites us, his work is deeply humanistic. Do not waste time with religious, political symbols, or ornaments that denote a social class that you may be portraying. Man Yu's painting is connected to metaphysics, to the language of the initiates, the work of the classical portrait, which alludes to beauty and nudity, the colonial beauty from which he has not yet managed to get rid of, so coloniality, Despite the message that is being sent to us, it is still valid. The step taken, even so, is gigantic, especially in today's society, where outbursts are not well accepted and that non-aggressive, sweetening and condescending character is required that the artist's work exudes. A plausible exercise that seeks a peaceful and sensitive reflection very in tune with his Asian ancestry and the educational conditions that continue to strain that clear desire to distance himself from the inescapable, which is still the battle of all time.

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There is no freedom in Man Yu's work, on the contrary, there is an aesthetic impulse to a failed attempt, a desire not to suffer, the bodies mend the broken skin, darn the ethereal layer that is in constant struggle with the appearance that survives. in the faces, in the masks of his portrayed. His figures that obviously drink from a classic beauty, well assimilated and linked to the perfection of the forms that fashion dictates. Young, smooth bodies of various races, but absolutely impeccable, worthy of a Greek statue or a Vogue cover. Even so, the tension and the need to detach oneself, exerts an uncomfortable reflection in the current context. We are not satisfied with ourselves, and we cannot, no matter how many attempts we make, to reach the Ithaca we dreamed of. The objective need for Sachlichkeit has to be satisfied, hence some of the works, metaphorically allude to the gaze, the eyes as a paradigm of objectivity while the body turns on itself to inhabit other possible realities. attempt at a new objectivity ?.

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As for the monochromatic choices of the naked skins, or the other me as the writer Miguel Serrano would suggest, they let us glimpse that this work, despite the conceptual criticisms that we could recriminate, establishes an initiatory dialogue with whoever can read it. The connection of the human with the other sensible bodies that also belong to him. Many of them wait to be listened to as in the work "sentence" that they awaken when being dressed while they contemplate externally that the conscience appears. Human Suit lets us glimpse the doors through which we could access our other selves. As in Lewis Carroll's Alice, the doors are sometimes sex, others, gender, motherhood, friendship. There is always the opportunity to bare your skin and be a universal, monochromatic race which is how Man Yu represents the human spirit.

Man Yu's pictorial work, his oil work and his hyper-realistic technique at times allow us to glimpse a pure academic condition, the same one that he claims for the portraits he presents. The portrait technique is contemplated from a classical perspective, the nudes, the foreshortenings, the limits of the movement suggest a reconnection with colonial beauty. It is not in his technique, his rejection of what is imposed, but in the way in which we are exposed as humanity. In front of the pictorial work, Traje Humano has dragged a sequel of aesthetic conflicts and cultural diversity such as fashion, performance, and other collective actions very attached to the new trends of the social that, in my way of seeing, steal prominence from the purist poetry of the painting on display. However, the hybridization with different languages ​​and groups has dimensioned the intimate experience to make it universal. The initiatory glimpse is glimpsed in some images that endorse the laws of the Kybalion on "as it is inside is outside" or as it is above is below. The Human Suit exhibition places us in the possibility of reflecting on the “skin device” that surrounds us, but that does not shape us as a species or as a race. What he does not clarify is probably the most interesting thing about his work.

Margarita Aizpuru, Independent curator and art critic, Spain

Man Yu: beyond the skin

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"There is nothing deeper than the skin" (Paul Válery)

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The depth of the skin can be understood in the dialectical interrelation between the inside and the outside, between the superficial and the deep, between the body, and its connotations, and the spirit, between the physical and the mind, between emotion and consciousness. , between intuition and reason.

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The cells, certain chemical elements that compose us, the skin, the muscles, the bones, the biochemical and electrical processes, the energy that moves us, the development and the bodily freshness and the decay and aging, the eroticism, the sensations, the experiences, and so many ingredients make up our "human suits" with which we travel through our lives, on our planet Earth.

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But also our “human suits” such as those in which our behaviors, assigned roles, stereotypes, and discriminations suffered are mapped, whether for xenophobic, racist, sex / generic, cultural, religious and many other reasons. And some “human suits” where love, desire, positive energies live, where consciousness becomes physical leading to action, where emotions and feelings, self-esteem, as well as pain and suffering are embodied.

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In addition, we can understand that under everything, inside our being, in its depths, as Paul Valery would say, is where our true skin is born, grows, well below the “human suit”, which is often made up of capes, and even masks that can be interchanged, like someone changing their suit, their face, their gestures. A deep skin, like a sensitive territory of emotions, energies, understanding, introspection, transcendence and binding interconnections with others, and connection with the other, like that space / time of deep transcendence.

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These are some ideas, sensations, readings and interpretative understanding, which we can see from the global artistic work called Human Suit, by the Costa Rican artist of Chinese origin Man Yu (Hong Kong, 1978). And that, here, in Madrid, is shown in an exhibition of that name, at the La Neomudéjar Museum in Madrid from March to July of this year 2021, within the objectives of this avant-garde, independent and committed Art Center that bets for the most experimental and current creations and artistic exchanges with other countries.

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An exhibition that has been traveling, moving, through different museums and spaces in different countries such as China, Beijing, Russia or Costa Rica, and now Spain, and in which Man Yu delves into the body, its experience and its meanings, by that it explores, both as the connotations and the conditions assigned to it in our societies, and as also a form of self-knowledge, to go beyond it, inward, introspectively and deeply. A body, like costumes of a being that is there inside, and that makes explicit in the two-dimensional territory, that of painting, but also in its extension to other artistic territories, such as performance, installation or video.

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Bodies as a map of signs and metaphors that she describes as costumes, starting from her own individual experience, from its conditioning factors, clicked assignments, sensations and emotions, and from representations that transcend her own individuality to be extensible, as experience and reflection, to others.

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Although painting has been the most used expressive medium in Man Yu's artistic career, it makes use of very different disciplinary means. Most of his works focus on awareness and reflection on those layers of socialization that make up our "human suit", as we have commented, and delving and delving into ourselves, to transcend it, and be free, deeply. His works wander between the strong aesthetic expression, the poetic vibration, the psycho-carnal and emotional narrative, the anti-discriminatory humanist activism of human differences, their disregard and subordination. In her works she also advocates a new and deep identity of people, free from oppression, fear, toxicity and alienation, charged with positive energy and free and equal interrelationships in a coexistence of respect and equality between people and nature.

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In that sense, he makes use of the concept of "human suit", like that series of paintings that he offers us, sometimes monocramas and other bichromatic, with which he represents, with a very realistic figurativeism, except in color and line, very different people. , in different attitudes and behaviors, interrelating between them, or alone, showing that "human suit" that covers us. Painted human bodies, of technical precision, showing their bodies, their muscles, their skins, sometimes half removed or put on, changing from gray to flesh, like that removable suit.

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This metaphor of the suit as socialized skin, such as identity and behavioral capes and masks, was already represented by the artist at age 9, through an early painting that she made, representing a human skin suit, hanging from a hook on a wall, next to an empty crib. A skin seen as a dress, from which it could be detached and hung, to retain the essence of its being. A sort of exhorcization of the psychic and emotional consequences produced by the cruel bulling, of which the artist was a victim, in her childhood and adolescence, because she was different due to her race and culture, Asian, in a youthful and educational environment in which she was not differences were admitted. Humiliation, mockery, humiliation, aggression, ridicule, by children and adults, towards her, the different one, provoked an attitude of resistance, rebellion, and creativity by drawing, painting scenes with children's characters of happy and "normal" lives. that deep down they were scenes of personal desire and that, perhaps, they served as a liberating ritual, in the Jodorowskian, psychomagic sense. And a children's painting that we estimate is the leitmotif of the later development of this project, to which it is incorporated, as its origin and motor source.

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An artistic project, Traje Humano, is a work in progress that has been developed in time, through the years, since 2013, and in spaces, in the different countries and places where it has been shown and deployed in its activities, which is made up of a series of medium to large-format paintings, installations, video performances, a fashion show, and other multidisciplinary activities with different collaborating artists.

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Among those multidisciplinary activities included in the project, it is worth highlighting the performance / happening carried out by the artist in 2019, entitled No Soy Este Traje, with the participation of 100 different people, men and women, intervening-activating their bodies, dresses and naked, in public space, on the streets of the city of San José, in Costa Rica. Nudity of bodies so massive that it was the first time it had been seen in the city, drawing attention, provoking approaches and reflections, and that, although in a personal and subjective way and keeping distances, remind us of the interventions of the North American artist Spencer Tunick and his numerous photographic series representing human masses of naked people, in their diversity and plurality, in public spaces.

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This action of Man Yu, of collective-participatory execution and development, followed a script or guidelines outlined by the artist, but at the same time it fostered a collective and individual deployment of each participant, who interpreted and acted on the social conditioning and the vicissitudes of the lives of each one under their "human suits", stripping, symbolically, of their dresses, being naked under a huge flesh-colored cloth that covered them, as a transforming ritual, and all wearing a T-shirt with the slogan of "I do not I am that suit ”, quite in line with the general discourse of the project, in that I am the interior and not the surface. An action that takes place in the field of emotions, sensory, social and vindictive, introspective and psychological, purely experiential and spiritual, in a kind of ritual liberating energy, thoughts and emotions. And a performance recorded on video, in that performance expanded into other artistic fields that many artists practice, and that is also integrated into this exhibition.

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In short, works that make up a strongly humanistic project that liberates all constraints, which are heirs, in some way, of the vast artistic territory inherited from body art and the performative spirit, and which is part of the humanistic, rights-related fields. human beings, equality, horizontally from the different, by transcending that coverage, that suit, to go deeper, to the human essence, where sociocultural, racial, gender-gender, and other differences do not matter.

And an exhibition project made up of works that lead us to reflect-feel the depth of the true skin that Paul Valery was talking about.

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Marisa Caichiolo, Director Building Bridges Art Exchange, United States

Man Yu and his transforming alchemy human suit

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The artist has drawn and painted from a very young age; Already in his youth, he expressed his discomfort and his position against bullying through painting, materializing and addressing the issue of violence from his artistic practice.

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His work has as its main and almost only element the human body, it is about subject-object, in this he seeks to rescue and capture emotions, gestures, expressions and movements. This subject is the initial material that will be subjected to the alchemy of the artist's creative process. In Man Yu's work we meet the other as a kind of mirror that transmits in a certain way what we want to show the world about ourselves and even our state of mind.

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Man Yu has traveled through drawing, painting, installation and performance always from a critical and questioning view of his social and political environment. Her work allows us to glimpse some evidence of an autobiographical and feminine position accompanied by elements that reveal the violence and suffering manifested by the handling of the body in her work. The psychological, public, intimate and political body that at the same time form a whole.

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These combinations are reflected in his public actions and performative interventions that break the lethargy of some neighborhoods, alluding to the real violence to which many beings are subjected in the daily order and the silence of a society based on non-inclusion. and the non-acceptance of differences.

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The interesting thing is to see the artist's commitment both in her own practices and exercises, as well as in her commitment to the public, which tries to make visible what is normalized in society from activism.

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Tatiana Muñoz Brenes, Researcher and independent curator, Costa Rica

Human Suit

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Man Yu's biography, image and career are already media topics. To reiterate this would be unnecessary when you have the possibility of praising the perplexity with which I look at her, me, woman, healer, bisexual, dissident. She, her creativity, her beauty, her spirituality, her cultural heritage, her self-taught plastic abilities, her technical expression, her first-generation Chinese ancestry, her label-free sexual and gender dissent. We are two queer women (or cuir, according to preference) who look at each other, me reading images and writing biased by my own causes that cross my subjectivity, while I wonder why, among so many interviews and reviews, has never been written about Man Yu's work with an LGBTIQ + perspective?

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But let's start by detailing the formalism of his images. A figurative painting reminiscent of the London tradition of Bacon and Freud, it details series of naked bodies, with detailed and defined lines that give realism to the furrows, textures, chiaroscuro, blushes and villi. Man Yu demonstrates his sharpness in anatomical drawing, his depths, foreshortenings and perspectives, combined with techniques that allow him to mix more ethereal components. The composition is shown clean in the absence of a background, plus the complex and not very spontaneous postures of the bodies, challenge the artist to achieve the visual harmony that in fact she manages to conquer: a mastery over curves, knots of extremities, breaks. The material power of the oil collection stands out, which gives expressionist strength to the works once looked at closely, revealing occasional lumps. His palette is soft and harmonious, between the grays surrounding warmer segments. The Apollonian line stands out, a perfect handling of the drawing that does not hesitate to go to the extreme of the prominence of the stain, with a rather spontaneous brushstroke that distorts and redirects the viewer's reason to more mystical dimensions.

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There is something disturbing and at the same time soothing about the bodies painted by Man Yu. There is a surprise at the lack of a background that could contextualize the work, making it something more ephemeral and floating. By denying us a support with the explicit history and context of each painting, Man Yu takes us out of the earth to express ourselves on an unknown plane, or as the painter claims, spiritual. The bodies now flirt with the intangible despite its figurative representation. They are not solid, there is something in them that escapes. They are bodies arranged in different combinations of eroticized relationships, in pairs of the same sex or individuals with themselves. There is a desire denoted in the gazes focused on the other, in faces whose eyelids and lips are synchronized in a partial opening, creating an ecstatic gesture. While the bodies alone look at the skin, touch, inspect and even tear, with a calm and gentle gesture that does not stop evoking an immaterial eroticism with the self. The irregular postures and undulations of the oil show a resistance to earthly hyper-realism. Peering the skin, bleaching it, ripping it off, sewing it again ... skin is a suit. We enter the subject of the immateriality of being: the paradox that Man Yu's work proposes of a painting of bodies, but with a conceptualization that transcends the sensible.

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Leaving the formalities and semiotics behind, my job is to pioneer a first look, incomplete and general, about the queer importance of Man Yu's work: and it is that he touches the subject without intending to, and is right. The studies of sexuality and gender are crossed by a corporal performativity, but the artist turns the statement towards more spiritual ideas that can be associated with her cultural heritage of the wise East, all of which allows her to get out of the somatocentrism of the queer theories that rule philosophy. western. What is queer here transcends the mere lesbian and gay scenes, so obvious and not euphemized by the artist. It reminds us that we are born in a way, and it conditions us and makes us prisoners.

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Gender and sexuality are part of the human costume. This is a thought that comes to the artist a posteriori, without her having the intention of addressing this issue. The artist, unconsciously, drags all the problems that are in front of her eyes and transfers them to the conditions of the skin. The skin hangs. The skin lays. The skin is sewn. Here the artist questions our relationship with our own body, our default, our ignorance, our discrimination, our nosologies based on the materiality of the skin. Skin without which we would achieve "to be unx, to be love", in the words of Man Yu. That is why absolute nudity: if we are not the skin, even less are we the clothes. If the world of haute couture proclaims that clothing is another skin, the human costume paints the opposite: skin is another clothing, just as mutable, perishable and empty for being.

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The magic of the human suit is that each observer interprets it in their own way, because it reminds them of their own interest, whatever it may be. The intimate history (ergo, political) of the person who looks at the work, makes it vary its content and its nuance. Conceptually appeals to the intersectionality of issues that concern the body, body, body, such as racism, transfeminism, sexual orientation and others; although he neglects the symbolic and aesthetic possibilities that the presence of more diverse bodies would bring to the work. This is the value of a polysemic work: it allows as many readings as there are spectators, appealing to the unique subjectivity of each person, resounding according to the concerns and intimacies that boil and throb, that are latent, and beat. It is no coincidence that the work in question manages to knock on the doors of audiences that do not consume art.

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This is how Man Yu does his job: projecting his intention of awakening. He wondered "live to paint, or paint to live"; and she herself responds "to live to paint, and not to paint", associated with her conviction of professing love, with or without a brush. The artist and the human intersect with the spiritual ambition given by a maddened muse.

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An LGBTIQ + look at Man Yu's work is only one possible reading, a very different reading, even marginal. I propose to celebrate this polysemy with a challenge to the reader: let us analyze Man Yu's work, starting from one of his words: "Aesthetics without consciousness and coherence is not art."

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Yecid Calderón. Queer researcher, philosopher and artist, Mexico

The body as a suit

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The contact

I was in San José with the intention of facilitating a cultural residency at Casa Caníbal directed by Salvador Vayá. I did not know that apart from the work that I was going to undertake as a facilitator in this project - on the issue of transvestism in the center, a matter that I dealt with until recently - I was going to generate such a solid and transformative encounter with the artist's work. Costa Rican, of Hong Kong origin, Man Yu.

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The first time I heard about Man Yu was when I met Rayo Luján, Colombian theater director, producer and cultural manager based in San José. The two Colombians met for lunch in the center of the city at the beginning of last June.

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There Rayo told me about Man Yu's work, and as if something converged with my own concerns, the narrative with which he explained Man Yu's work began to impact. This is how my motivation came about. Fortunately, Iris Lam, curator of Man Yu's work, was among the close people she had recently met in San José. It didn't take long for me to go to Iris to find out more about it.

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The meeting

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Through Iris Lam I began an approach to the work of Man Yu, particularly, the piece that has catapulted her the most in the Latin American and international art scene. Traje Humano is, without a doubt, a project that goes beyond the technical possibilities and the traditional ways of contemporary art.

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This work, initiated through drawing and painting practices, displays a wide spectrum of actions that have come to transcend the individuality and personality, the skin and the thought of Man Yu, to involve different processes (sculpture, art on paper, photography, installations, video art, video-mapping, fashion design, performance) to articulate reflective networks between people who tend to a spiritual search, a path towards the essential overcoming the world of appearances, right from the most mimetic and apparent artistic practices: the drawing and painting. This is without a doubt the Human Suit's most shocking achievement.

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Very soon I realized, thanks to that strong intuition of those of us who believe that art not only helps to strengthen mercantile, economic and aesthetic processes, but that it can serve as an epistemic, political and, why not, spiritual platform: I was facing a a work that indicates an afterlife, a metaphysics that, not because it is transcendent, loses the immanent place of materiality that confirms and establishes it through living relationships.

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The materiality of which Man Yu's work speaks is one that glimpses relationships of meaning through bonding and interaction exercises with people. A work started individually and that, by creation and action of the artist who manages it in a performative way, slowly unfolds a series of possibilities that involve people from different disciplines: visual artists, actors, dancers, performers, activists, curators, cultural agents, critics, art theorists and even diplomats; in short, the entire cultural collective of a small nation agglutinated and intertwined through this reticular, rhizomatic linkage.

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Human Suit turns out to be, in this perspective, the pretext to find the essential place of a living framework, an organic space that is forged through a revolutionary artistic exercise, in the sense that it breaks paradigms.

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The origin and history

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In the case of Traje Humano we find the historical evolution of a life; with the occurrence of a subject or a subjectivity becoming a body; body drawn and marked by race, class and gender markers. Therefore, in order to recognize the aesthetic, artistic, theoretical, social, political and spiritual dimensions of this piece, it is necessary to go to the life of Man Yu, the manager of this hybrid plastic, experimental, multifaceted and performative exercise.

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Man Yu was born in Hong Kong and at the age of seven begins, together with his family, a new life in Costa Rica. At that time, the president of the Central American nation Oscar Arias Sánchez won the Nobel Peace Prize (1987). The father of Man Yu, a Chinese ex-combatant who had been to several battlefields and who only longed to find a place where war was not the issue, takes advantage of the situation and the demilitarization of Costa Rica to make San José his new city .

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Little Man Yu attends school to begin the adaptation she requires in her new context and in which she experiences culture shock. Bullying is part of the triggering factors that will give rise to Human Suit.

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The limited possibility of communication, racial and cultural differences, the family's own adaptation situation make Man Yu vent, through drawing, his particular experience of subordination as a different body. Thus, at a young age he made the sketch of what in the future will be one of the most forceful pieces of his career. Man Yu painted a human body hanging from a closet hook, as if it were the body as a dress, as an endowment.

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There are endowments that dignify, but this body that is like a shirt or pants, something superficial, signifies the places of subordination from where a politics of the body that privileges and denoses is built, based on appearance, that puts up or down , which hierarchizes.

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The migrant, the appearance of the suit, the signature or marker that indicates another race, another place, another color, invests and gives a value status to the bodies. Man Yu's work has an emancipatory character that transcends the political, the victimizing, the violent, the vindictive, to take us to a more powerful place, a more effective way out: an ethic of recognition in this plastic and aesthetic exercise, solidarity and binding of collective experiences.

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In this lies the forcefulness of the piece: Man Yu does not aspire to the representation of discriminatory violence in an act of revictimization, but to something deeper, something authentically liberating. It seeks to show that the body is just a dress, something superimposed, under which is something deep and essential.

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Human Suit highlights the fact that we only see masks, cases, bicocas, shop windows in which something more important and valuable lives than what is sensually perceived and immediately; there is something more inside that body marked by multiple markers and that, on the political level, in the mere appearance, enable the deployment of choreographies with which some bodies are hierarchized over others.

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This hierarchical deployment can be affected by the recognition of that inside the body, of that person who essentially inhabits us and who enunciates his reality as the substance of the human, promoting horizontality and encounter.

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Man Yu indicates a more within the body; With clear intention, it does not seek to allege something against any oppressive regime of race, class or gender, but rather tries to rescue everyone from that lethargy that plunges us into the world of fictions of the body, to indicate the essential place to which we can arrive and converge, from an effective and affective attitude that would be the content of all politics; namely, an ethic in which to recognize oneself.

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Even from this perspective, oppressors and oppressed ultimately share the same legacy; a human capacity to poeticize, aestheticize, create and transform, both the environment and our practices; a human capacity to reform our relationships, to give meaning to our actions and to produce collective practices around art.

This would be the body and personal art of Man Yu, one that goes beyond his own production to establish links and generate essential identification processes.

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This is how Man Yu invites us to go after that essential and constitutive that orders us in the same species, unique people, although not solitary, locked in an egotic solipsism, linked through a permanent dialogue of the person, of letting oneself be said himself, resonances, ways of listening to others and others to weave networks.

From this personance in constant relationship, there is no longer any argument that - based on a specific feature of the body such as "human costume" - someone can establish as supremacy over others. Equality or, at least, essentiality that links us before it separates, would be one of the central messages that orders, articulates and projects the work of this Costa Rican artist.

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The circuit

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When I wanted to meet Man Yu, his occupation prevented us from meeting. He was preparing for a trip to the 2019 China, Latin America and Caribbean Art Festival, to which the Chinese embassy had invited him and which was held at the Beijing World Art Museum last June.

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The selected piece was Traje Humano, which had been inaugurated months ago, on November 1, 2018, in the National Gallery, and which had been declared of National Cultural Interest in Costa Rica. The work, initially composed of thirty large-format pictorial pieces, became a circuit by summoning other artists and occupying different spaces in San José and other cities in Costa Rica.

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The circuit was activated in places such as the National Gallery, The Fashion Show, the Carthage Museum, the Cultural Center of Spain, the TEC Arts Center and Skawak Square. Thus, the Human Suit Circuit gradually exhibited a piece of collective interaction that gave it a certain performative and performative character.

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Human Suit Circuit with a perfomatic character due to the fact of linking actions, dance pieces, theater pieces, stories of other people, for which it transcends the fact of the conventional pictorial exhibition to go to actions and encounters and articulate various narratives that they are related to the node of the matter: the body as a suit, the very bustle of human becoming and that permanent search for a common place that relates and links based on similarities and not on differences; an essence as the binding epicenter.

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Performative Human Suit Circuit because it starts the work from the ground of the traditional arts. As a plastic unit, it is linked to new ways of making art, of constituting a work, as well as generating other possibilities of exhibiting and sharing with the public. It is performative because it modifies the processes of an art from which the same old is expected; It is surprising to the extent that it goes beyond the format and shows us plastic possibilities from collaborative and mutual work.

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Since it includes activities as diverse as dance and theater pieces, narration exercises, performance and fashion show, brought together under the experience of the costume and the bustle, of the vulnerable, this work by Man Yu, supported by the management of Iris Lam, urges from that human fragility that constitutes us, to penetrate deeply and find the vein that makes us strong; the axis of the common, the axis of what is consubstantial to all people, the vertebra of the human that brings us together: the person.

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A binding work

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After waiting a few weeks I had the great pleasure of speaking via Skype with Man Yu. The interview was not a traditional survey in which a list of questions gives rise to a series of definitions, orientations and data about the artist's work in a cold way, satisfying a superficial inquiry about Human Suit.

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Our conversation turned into an experience that encouraged personal transformation. The meeting took place at a time when I was wondering about the political value of accentuating differences from the corpo-politics, and the way in which those same differences have to converge for the construction of a common unity that propitiates the necessary transformations for a better instituted political life.

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In those days I noticed that the more emphasis was placed on the difference in the struggle, on the diversity of factors that distinguish us as subordinate bodies, the more difficult it became to build a transfer band for the claim. The groups of subordinates, instead of meeting, separated, and the small differences continued to multiply, generating chasms between one and the other.

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When I questioned Man Yu, I found a proposal that makes art a meeting place, an epicenter to tie together diverse experiences, to translate experiences of oppression without revictimizing or flaunting an oppression that boasts of being more than others, such as it usually happens with discourses based on the differential factors of the corpo-politics of race, class, gender or sexual diversity.

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It was thus that I began to turn the wheel of my concerns towards a more effective place, to the extent that Man Yu commented on the meaning of his work, opening a landscape back to the philosophy of dialogue and the personalist politics of recognition; a work that, instead of separating, gathers and summons; Instead of provoking pitiful denunciations, it makes possible the liberation and joy of the meeting from the common, what is shared.

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When he talked with Man Yu, I noticed his insistence on delving into himself to rescue what inhabits us, that more forceful than the appearance of the body; that human being that incarnated is capable of overcoming his "human suit" and finding what really matters: that constitutive that each one of us has as persons.

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For Man Yu the body is important, the body does not detract, since it allows us to occupy the world and perform the actions we undertake; although unlike corporal monism, it does not reduce the body to a mere sensible and exclusively material perception without more; it does not leave him doomed to a destitute, orphan, lonely immanence, as if the diversity of that body condemns us to separation and ostracism, individualism and conceit.

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On the contrary, Man Yu uses art, drawing or painting, to indicate a nucleus of similarity, a link that is built as a bridge over those abysses mentioned by the body. Man Yu is a teacher who encourages, through her work and her word, a certain spirituality that calls for an encounter between people, different, but united by that more within the "human suit", the authentic body-voice of the person.

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But let's pay attention to something: Man Yu does not carry out this activation and awareness of the encounter from a mere plastic or aesthetic rhetoric; on the contrary, on the concrete level, his spirituality calls people, fellow citizens, neighbors, friends, colleagues, to create interaction networks to make the Human Suit a relational piece that serves as platform to strengthen the threads of the social fabric.

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An art that starts from traditional artistic practices to go further, breaking formats and paradigms, creating encounter and opening paths for a collaborative, audacious art, conducive to an ethics and a politics of recognition.