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Timur Si-Qin’s third exhibition at Magician Space was inspired by his journey through Western China in the fall of 2023, focusing on the Hengduan Mountain Range in Western Sichuan, near the eastern edges of the Himalayas. This region is not only a unique ecoregion and a biodiversity hotspot, but it also cradles six major rivers that downstream provide water to one-third of the world’s population.

Hengduan boasts one of the highest levels of biodiversity in China, supporting the richest temperate endemic flora worldwide. Protecting areas like Hengduan is vital to mitigating the severe impacts of global biodiversity loss. This diversity is the true treasure of China.

This exhibition builds on Timur’s ongoing research into how conservation cultures can be developed and sustained. “New Peace” is a long-term initiative that seeks to cultivate a nature-centric spirituality for the 21st century within our contemporary, post-secular society. Research also indicates a direct correlation between biodiversity and cultural diversity, suggesting that the variety of human cultures benefits nature.

Often described as an evolutionary cradle, the Hengduan Mountains boast dense rhododendron forests with 223 species, and are home to over 20 different ethnic groups, including the Yi, Qiang, Naxi, and Lisu, making it one of China’s most culturally diverse regions. The works in this show are iconographic and sacred representations of the plants of Hengduan. Images and artifacts which aim to de-anthropocentrify the sacred, replacing the image of the human figure commonly found in religious iconography with those of plants specific to Hengduan. These are then held by the vessels of culture to tap into a vernacular of holy veneration, inspired by the bronzes of Sanxingdui, an ancient nature worshipping culture, and the murals of Dunhuang, the historical gateway of Buddhism into China.

In an era of global biodiversity crisis, it is crucial to learn from indigenous cultures, who make up only 5% of the global population but safeguard 80% of the world’s biodiversity. What makes indigenous cultures such effective guardians of nature? Beyond just subsisting from the land, what unites most indigenous cultures is having nature based religions and spiritualities, that hold nature at the center of their meaning systems. Indigenous spiritualities, expressed through the aid of their languages, rituals, and songs, become powerful and durable mechanisms for the protection of biodiversity on earth.

Timur Si-Qin: A Vision of You

Timur Si-Qin: A Vision of You

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