Every culture has superstitions – lucky charms and objects tend to be the most common manifestations. Four-leaf clovers, rabbit’s feet, and horseshoes are popular in American culture. Why do they symbolize luck? Why do we still buy or collect these things and hope that we get lucky some day? The answer is simple: no matter how our lives are dominated by the logic of efficiency and multi-national capitalism, we still like to believe that there are things that are not governed by them. We call it luck, fortune or miracle. Whether we admit it or not, most of us are superstitious to some degree. So why not bring lucky charms from around the world together, and see if we get any luckier?
Various “lucky” objects are arranged in a diptych of Mandala-like layouts. You may find some objects familiar to you and some not, since they are gathered from superstitions from all over the world. As the viewer, you would start looking at this piece by identifying objects you might easily associate with luck – a wishbone, a penny on the ground, four-leaf clovers. Then you move onto other objects that you have seen before, but are unsure about the meaning – ceramic cats, bamboo, or a human-like elephant. As you deduce the general significance of the various items, you may ponder the specifics of the more esoteric objects, such as the pig’s head.
Among all the different Mandalas I researched, I adopted the “Ryobu-Mandala” specific to “Esoteric Buddhism” in China and Japan. Unlike the grid format that I have worked with in past projects, this type of Mandala pattern does not imply linear narratives, but cohesively encloses and encapsulates multithreaded meta-narratives in which one can immerse him/herself in anywhere within the visual. The ethnocentric superstitions attached to these various material objects become part of a metaphysical yet silly concept: “universal luck” in the visual realm.