Man Yau is a Helsinki-based artist who states that she works with “an articulation of high class elegance versus low life.” She sent us a project of hers from 2012 titled Porcelain Decks. The project brought together ten porcelain skateboard decks that were showcased in a video. CTRL Clothing designer Tomi Freeman illustrated three of the decks and Yau’s video was produced in collaboration with Cocoa Helsinki and Angel Films.
Above image: Man Yau, Cum (Froggy Style Series), 2012; porcelain, colored mass and glaze, 180 mm x 710 mm
You may ask yourself: Wait, wouldn’t porcelain skateboards break?
Yes. Yes, they do. They break extravagantly, drawing no small amount blood in the process. It’s an interesting relationship between design and the user. A skateboarder who knows what he or she is doing appears to be one with their board. In the video we see talented skateboarders pulling off tricks only to have their ride nope out on them by shattering into thousands of pieces in the crucial moment. The rider sticks the landing and it is accented by an explosive instant of destruction.
Her most recent work is Nunzugu Part 1, in which the subject of the film walks the streets spinning a functional pair of ceramic nunchakus. There’s no explosive moments as in the first piece. Our expectations are subverted. Her skateboards break although skateboards are not meant to break and her nunchakus never hit anything although they are weapons. Instead, they’re spun in elegant suspension set to some very chill music. We focus on the skill and grace of the person who wields them. Yau tells us the film is an homage to popular culture, Bruce Lee in particular.
We’re fans of how Yau’s sensibilities fit seamlessly into her ceramic art. She can watch martial arts movies with us in Santa Fe any time she likes.
Bill Rodgers is a Contributing Editor at CFile.
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