Sylvie ‘Shiwei’ Barbier is a French-Taiwanese artist. Her work synthesizes Eastern and Western philosophies and aesthetics. She is also the co-founder of Life Itself, an organization dedicated to practical actions for a radically wiser, weller world.
Her performance art pieces are contemporary rituals, where the audience is invited to take an active and interactive role. She uses language such as Koans as a bridge for the mind into the spiritual realm, by pushing us beyond the bounds of the intellect into a space of greater wholeness and connection.
If the use of language gives a theatrical dimension to her work, she is by no means acting as someone else or a character. Yet she honors the roots of Greek theater which connects the audience to the living myths and Gods. Ultimately, her work aims to connect us to life itself, to our oneness which she believes is a key spiritual experience in healing ourselves from the illusion of separation. Nudity is there at the service of reconnecting with our universality, our physical matter, a form of rawness, natural animality and a powerful vulnerability.
Her work is heavily Buddhist-informed and yet transcends Buddhism. The five remembrances are often incarnated into a synthesis of art, religion and activism.
Her abstract paintings express the mouvement and ephemerality of life, a meditation on the christian prayer of “Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. We are nothing but dust and to dust we shall return.” By using ashes, clay, earth, sand and chinese ink, the material are a reminder of the third remembrance “I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.”and therefore bridges eastern and western religion. They are a new form of nature morte where instead of representing death and decay she uses the materials themselves. As if life itself was on the canvas an energy where there is no death and no birth just the present instance of now.