Danny Yung on Critical Thinking, Creativity, and Advocacy Arts


Creativity is very, very important
to social development, cultural development, political development. Of course, when we talk about creativity, it’s not just limited to arts and culture, singing and dancing, but more so to alternative ways of thinking, critical thinking. I think the most important energy that can be generated
from critical thinking will lead to creativity and vice versa. Yeah, I’ve been working with creative activities in Asia
for quite a few years. My recent activity was related to this little guy who’s also behind me. This little guy is Tiantian and I call the project
Tiantian Xiang Shang (天天向上) – Every Day We Look Up. Of course, Tiantian Xiang Shang is a motto
originally initiated by Mao back in the 50’s for gradeschool kids. I thought it was a very good idea to go back to the 50’s and think about all this kind of—in the very, very beginning— the energy that was there trying to reform
and trying to bring about a better society of China. What I did was I developed different sizes and I invited people
to just do whatever they want with it. I did that in Hong Kong, I did that in Tokyo,
and I’m doing this in many other cities in Asia and trying to use this to network everyone to discuss the idea of creativity being interaction
and participation and mutual debate, you know, a more intellectual debate. So, this is like a blank canvas, so I have everyone doing whatever they want onto it. Whatever they do reflects their concerns and, of course, also reveals their inner feelings
aside from their own identity. The exhibit I did in Shanghai
was presented during the Shanghai Expo in 2010. What I did was I brought about 64 artists working with me together, and we exhibited in the Shanghai Expo. The whole idea is: to curate a more creative exhibit
is more important than a creative work itself. I think, to have critical thinking is not only about what’s around us
but also about the system around us. In this case, I have been commenting on the arts institutions,
the galleries system, the museum system. And then from that we go further and further
and we discuss the education system, we discuss cultural policy and the cultural system. How can we examine the system
and see where can we go from there to make it a better system? The one I did in Japan recently
was with children in the disaster area. I went and visited there. After one year, it’s still quite deserted, and the children I worked with,
they lost half of their friends and they also lost their parents. Half of them have lost their parents. So we were working together with them to try to see how they can reconstruct
how they feel and what they think. And I think that’s what advocacy arts is all about. We tried to also bring about a collective feeling. Working with the kids is so important and I think education is so important. We all know the education system is so problematic, the education system is so rigid. There’s no dialectic in our education system. Every single change moves so slowly if there’s any change. So we must generate the small pilot projects
to re-examine what is learning and what is teaching.

Dereck Turner

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