People’s Limbo @ Hong Kong Museum of Art, People’s Limbo in Second Life


“People’s Limbo in RMB City”
Cao Fei (SL: China Tracy)

At “Louis Vuitton: A Passion for Creation” Exhibition
Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong
May 22, 2009-August 9, 2009

“People’s Limbo” is a new series of interactive, experiential activities that take place in Cao Fei’s RMB City, a fantastical community in the vast virtual world of Second Life. A reaction to the global economic crisis, the project is an exploration of the feelings of despair, denial, and loss of control that accompany financial catastrophe, as well as the simultaneous potential for progress toward rebirth, self-reliance, and freedom.  In the words of Lao Tze, “If you empty the self and relax your desires, you will know more clearly where you are heading.”

Beginning May 22, 2009, ten videos of the ten new People’s Limbo activities will be displayed in the Hong Kong Museum of Art, as part of the “Louis Vuitton: Passion for Creation” group exhibition. The videos offer a Real Life (RL) audience a unique view of the essence of the “People’s Limbo” experience, while Second Life (SL) users can experience the work firsthand. Via avatars, people may participate interactively in each of the ten activities, as if playing a virtual art game.

Some of these games are competitive and reflect the influence of past economic realities, like one in which the visitor is thrown into the middle of a dense bubble of chaotic, bouncing balls, only to find it increasingly difficult to maneuver her way out, mirroring the quick loss of control that occurs as an economic bubble builds (and quickly collapses). Others, like a sustainable community garden, are meditative, and represent idealized visions of the future.

Perhaps the penultimate People’s Limbo experience is to visit the foot massage parlor staffed by Karl Marx, Mao Zedong, a fictional Lehman Brothers executive, and Lao Tze. In their imagined dialogue, Marx’s avatar quips to Mr. Lehman Brothers: “To be frank, your idea of freedom has gradually drawn out human beings’ unsatisfiable endless desire”, to which the executive replies “But without desire, the world becomes so boring”. Their philosophical examination of all of these ideas continue until the executive dispenses with a final piece of advice: “Take all this as a journey in the ‘Limbo of Life’”.

People’s Limbo

In Real Life: Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong
In Second Life: RMB City: People’s Limbo

Special Thanks to Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la Création

Events,Media Center,News,RL Events,SL Events — Zilla Warrhol, May 26, 2009 @ 6:52 pm

Recipe of the day: to build up a city you need…


What makes people live, die and even kill in the name of a Nation? How does Benedict Anderson theories of ‘imagined communities’ apply to a virtual world? RMB City and other SL realities need to be founded as RL cities are, or do they apply to a different logic of existence, balance and survival?

I don’t know the answers to these questions and I think it all depends on the needs and goals of any different virtual project…RMB City could become a showcase for artists and creative minds to show off their talents, it could be a stage for different trade and commercial activities, it could attract interests and provoke indifference but I personally still think that RMB City, as its own name registers, needs to be thought as a real, anthropological entity made of citizens sharing some common principles, faith and expectations and consequently still needs some essential elements to be laid for its stable foundation.

The birth of a new city and a new civilization must be built on something more than the mere defence from a common enemy or the mutual exchange of goods and services, and this is especially true in the case of virtual realities where you don’t normally need to bother about external threatens or perilous dangers. This is exactly the point: what brings people together if there is no fear and no need for self-conservation? Behind a virtual world’s artificiality there are real men, there are ideas, there are dreams and expectations that could turn out to be interesting and valuable in the construction of any kind of community. We should therefore find the proper ‘ingredients’ to build up this new community; this is particularly important in the modern multicultural context, where cultures and identities get lost in the huge macrocosm of globalization and it is also specifically urgent in contemporary China, a place of thousand-year traditions whose past has partially been erased from history books, though.
From this perspective, RMB City could also be used as an opportunity for contemporary China to redeem itself from the obscurantism of the past and start writing its alternative history anew.

If it is possible, this is my fundamental ‘recipe’ for the making of a new society:

a big handful of fantasy
three grains of Ancient M
yth (cosmogony, fratricidal fights and semidivine nature of the founder), three grains of Modern Myth (Childhood-as-Poet, Marylin Monroe, Libertė-Egalitė-Fraternitė)
a patron saint to whom pay homage every festivity
a past and a future
a founding text
a common language (what about sign language)?
a handful of utopic desires
a spoonful of transgression (useful to any society to regenerate itself)
a slice of sociality and free exchange of opinions
a copy of ‘The Noble Savage’ by Rousseau to believe (naïvely) in human goodness
a copy of Hobbes’ ‘Leviathan’ to keep in mind our animal nature: bellum omnium contra omnes
the complete edition of ‘Lost’ tv series for fun and as a modern reinterpretation of ancient myths and superstitions

Suggestions and new recipes are warmly welcomed.

Blog — Gianna Yebut, May 25, 2009 @ 9:19 pm

Money, faith and Chinese medical remedies: experience the new ‘People’s Limbo’ projects!



In adverse times of economical and social tribulations we can either complain and grieve over our dramatic fate or we can dust ourselves off and use the secret weapon of irony and playfulness in response.

I chose the second option and flew towards the first location of new RMB City project ‘People’s Limbo’: the Bank of China tower, also called ‘People’s Bank’.
Still crackling with enthusiasm in the outside area for the recent ordination of our new Mayor, its interior displays a highly intense icastic figure of faith and spiritualism: a huge golden statue of the virgin Mary ‘mapped’ on its surface with a sort of acupuncture web. The ten points drawn in the map actually relate to every single project of ‘People’s Limbo’ and by running the mouse over each point one gets teleported to a different related scene.
This mysterious place wanted to tell me something, I’m sure of that but still uncertain is the answer…inside its golden shining walls I expected to find cash and cheques but there’s only this enigmatic figure of Christianity enwrapped in Chinese traditional believes….I’m sure this is a message: should I count on faith and believe God will find a way out of this uncertain situation or should I find better answers in Chinese medical philosophy and re-equilibrate my interior harmony?

My life is in limbo and I’m waiting for some answers.
Any utopia demands for some sacrifices and any rebirth needs a process of purification…I’m waiting to experience the next step of ‘People’s Limbo’ to get some more clues on the solution.

Blog — Gianna Yebut, May 20, 2009 @ 11:17 pm

Immortal Art? Support the ‘Will your work’ initiative!


‘Art is man’s distinctly human way of fighting death’ says the American painter and sculptor Leonard Baskin; this post is to sustain the immortality of Art and specifically to suscribe to Bettina Tizzy’s proposal of establishing one day to encourage content creators to “Will your work”. This is her proposal:

About two weeks ago, virtual artist Vanfarel Kupfer died. Had he not left copies of most of his work (no trans, no mod) with his virtual girl friend, Native Aeon, his only legacy would be what is currently rezzed today.
Avatars in Second Life devote thousands of hours to creating content, and all that work is LOST when they die. Yes, even if they backed up that work by giving it to an alt. Even if they gave their account password to someone. When you die and unless you have taken appropriate measures, no one, not even Linden Lab, can legally access your work. It is simply lost forever.
I have been in communication with Linden Lab regarding the correct procedure for “willing” one’s artwork – or for that matter, any assets – in SL. Legally, the correct and ONLY procedure boils down to this:

In a nutshell, I propose that we establish one day a year, May 18, to encouraging content creators to “Will your Work.”
The goal would be to celebrate Van’s art while at the same time encouraging people to either give copies of their work to one or more avatars (not their alts) whom they trust, or add them to their Real Life will.
Also on May 18 and for one week, and working with his beloved Native Aeon, Vanfarel Kupfer’s work will be exhibited at four locations: his former home sim, EnLuminaria, the Crescent Moon Gallery, the Blackwater Gallery, and Chakryn Forest. Understandably, Native is still very much in mourning over her loss, and when I asked her how I could help, she stated that her greatest wish is that Vanfarel’s work become known throughout the grid. So be it.’

I would like to sustain Bettina’s proposal and maybe ask our fellow bloggers and visitors of RMB City website to leave a comment on the tricky issue of the immortality of virtual art and pay homage to Kupfer’s work.
As for myself, I totally agree with the general idea of living wills (as I actually do also in RL) but I also would like to raise a question: wouldn’t it be possible that the original intention of an artist is to let his art vanish together with himself?
Do we still have to believe in the immortality of Art (in regards to this subject I suggest the reading of the marvelous Keats’ ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’) or is it also possible to consider it as an eternal and ever-changing flux of energy and renewal?

Bettina Tizzy’s blog:

Blog — Gianna Yebut, May 14, 2009 @ 11:03 pm

Virtual reincarnations


Skipping through the huge amount of articles, manuals and essays I have been recently reading on virtual worlds and SL community, I have found out that the term ‘avatar’ is actually the Sanskrit word for ‘godly incarnation’ or ‘descent’. This is just a curiosity but still the definition strikes me as quite important.

First of all, I am wondering why, amongst all the languages of the world, Sanskrit has been chosen as the depositary of the meaning? And secondly, I am trying to think how this original definition connects to the actual concept of your-secondlife-self…

Sanskrit is an archetypal language, it has a very long history (apparently even longer than Chinese) and it is the best-preserved indo-European idiom thanks to the Veda and still nowadays one of the eighteen languages recognized by the Indian constitution. It is also of course the original language of Hinduism, religion predicating as one of its most important pillars of faith the theory of reincarnation and karma.
Both ‘samsara’ (reincarnation in Sanskrit) and ‘avatar’ are therefore specific Hindu words referring to a change or re-birth to a new (in the second case even lower) realm of existence. Is therefore your SL avatar a mere inferior replica of you real self? And most of all, do we really ‘replicate’ ourselves only through virtual worlds and role-playing games or do we maybe do it every day also in RL? Am I the exact same person in a formal business meeting at work and going karaoke night with my intimate friends?

Everybody in his everyday, ordinary life wears masks and creates social ‘avatars’ of himself in order to interact with different social situations.
With regard to this concept, I would like to suggest some readings of a famous 20th Century Nobel Prize Italian novelist and theatre writer called Luigi Pirandello and his interesting theory of the mask (

Blog — Gianna Yebut, May 10, 2009 @ 11:15 pm

Happy Buddha’s Birthday!

buddha-bdayToday is Buddha’s Birthday. The proper name for this annual celebration is “Vesak”, which is the Sinhalese word for the Sanskrit name “Vaisakha”. Vesak actually encompasses the birth, enlightenment (or Nirvana), and passing of Gautama Buddha. The Buddha explains Nirvana as “the highest happiness”. This happiness is an enduring, transcendental happiness integral to the calmness attained through enlightment, rather than the happiness derived from impermanent things.

In today’s turbulent world, may we all be protected and blessed as we celebrate the annual Vesak, and derive true happiness from calmness and enlightment.

AlanLau Nirvana (Mayor, RMB City, April-June 2009)

Blog — AlanLau Nirvana, May 1, 2009 @ 10:06 am