Xiyadie: Soaring

Thunderous applause and a hubbub of voices radiated from the television. In the courtyard, the birds were singing, the flowers were fragrant, and white clouds studded the blue sky; the atmosphere was buzzing with anticipation. I pushed my son along in his wheelchair, unconsciously quickening my pace to the powerful rhythm of the action on TV. My son, who has cerebral palsy, was really excited and instinctively rocked his thin body while it remained belted into the wheelchair. Suddenly, he pulled forward, then backward with intense effort, as if he wanted to yank his restraint sideways and vertically and snap it with his body. He transcended the helplessness and pain of his condition. He had such energy!

My heart was leaping in my chest, and I was overheated to the extreme.

He was moving from a new force entirely—

He can’t play sports or communicate like most others, but he has keen hearing. And so he started to rock to the sonorous melodies of the Olympics. The movement started to test his limits, and pea-sized beads of sweat began to glisten on his face and in his crew cut. He used his foot to turn on the vehicle horn I had made for him, telling me that he didn’t want me to interfere with him controlling his chair. As usual, I stood aside and looked on in support. He used the tip of his toe to press down, sending the chair whizzing backwards. Suddenly, a right pedal and his foot kicked the soccer ball⚽️. I burst into tears and applause! Kiss, kiss, clap, clap, clap, clap…

Translated from the Chinese by Bridget Noetzel.

Xiyadie is a self-taught traditional Chinese papercut artist who starting creating works with homoerotic themes to tell his narrative of transformation. Xiyadie subverts this historical form by depicting scenes of queer eroticism, where human beings are fused with nature and gay virility combines with the fertility of gardens and animal life. Due to the thinness of Chinese rice paper traditionally used for this craft, each work is made in editions, though the artist also works with materials like newspaper and silk, intricately cut and dyed by hand. His works have been shown at Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw (2020); BACC, Bangkok (2019); Long March Space, Beijing (2019); Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts (2019); Gwangju Biennale (2018); and Nome Gallery, Berlin (2018), among others. 

Bridget Noetzel is a translator, editor, and art consultant based in Hong Kong. She received a BA in both Chinese Language and the History of Art from Yale University. Since 2009, she has worked with galleries and artists in Beijing and Hong Kong, and she has translated and edited for major publications, institutions, and auction houses. In 2017, she co-founded the Asia Photography Project. She was the translator for Yi Ying’s history of modern Chinese art, entitled Art and Artists in China 1949-Present (Cambridge University Press, 2018).


平行奥运 Olympic Reveries

In tandem with the Tokyo Olympics, Heichi Magazine is hosting a parallel assembly of artist essays. Olympic Reveries emphasizes the cultural spaces opened up by sports and the illusion of spatiotemporal unity created by live broadcasts. We invited artists to extend the ideas of athleticism and national culture into their practices and speculate on real or imagined games that present values different from those of mainstream sporting events.

Xiyadie, Soaring, 2021

Published: 2021.07.28