Friday, December 2, 2011

Television Documentaries on YOUTUBE - Taiwan Art Therapy and Cosmetic Surgery in the U.K.

Guardian Angel Wings, was a feature report broadcast in June, 2011 on the TVBS Taiwan magazine program "Taiwan Step By Step".

I only learned of the story of Taiwanese artist Chen Zirong because a kind friend passed the TVBS link to us. It's a moving story, and you don't have to understand a word of Mandarin to get it. Chen is a 28 year old woman suffering from amnesia due to a car accident at age 3, crash which also badly injured her father. Chen's case was rather hopeless until Prof. Zhao Si-Qiang came into her life. When introduced to Chen, Prof Zhao saw something in her which touched him deeply, and he became determined to try to help Chen regain some of mental function through Art Therapy. At first the protective mother was naturally leery of university professor offering to mentor a mentally challenged woman, but this is a story in which true generosity of spirit produces dazzling results.

When the story begins we assume that this will be another inspirational piece, where a character who was unfairly set back in life, is assisted to the point of learning to function and enjoy life. But it is more than that. Chen's routine became one of daily immersion in art lessons, followed by long hours of trial and error. She was at first a copier, as are all students, and then she progressed to experimenting with classical styles, Cubism and Abstract Expressionism. Some of the film recreates outdoor sessions in which Chen was taught to commune with nature, drawing the textures of tree bark, the grain structure of stones and the pattern of clouds as they scudded over the city of Taipei.

Zhao's diligence and Chen's hard work have paid off, and she has now reached the stage where her work is original, interpretive and a genuine insight into the active imagination of a woman coping with lost function in only a portion of her mind. Her work is now exhibited and it is selling. We are privileged to witness the birth of a genuine artistic talent in Taiwan, and also (not incidentally) of the restorative value of Art Therapy when applied by a sensitive and giving instructor.

In the story Guardian Angel Wings (TVBS Taiwan, 2011) we see the artist, coping with memory loss, progress from mere student to become a master of her own style and technique. The video is available only on You Tube. If the story moves you, look for two other videos on Ms. Chen, archived on You Tube.

The Perfect Vagina, a film by Lisa Rogers, uses this latex sculpture by Jamie McCartney as the title card. Rogers gets her "fanny" immortalized for the research.

Strangely enough, this story is not so repelling as it reads, except for the few chilling moments when a teenager gets her labia sliced off. I'm surprised now that it took me a week to get up the nerve to watch The Perfect Vagina, which is one a half dozen CHANNEL 4 TV Docs I had been meaning to view. Total sexual liberation in our time was bound to create casualties, and one of the negative effects was the sick desire to have a photogenic vagina. Lisa Rogers is brave and funny, which means she is admirably suited to tackling a subject which might repel many other filmmakers. More, she is prettier than any of the other women interviewed, so of course she becomes a character in her own film.

The demand for vaginal cosmetic surgery has exploded in England, and she set out to discover why. It's an admirable piece of reportage, and Rogers will certainly have persuaded many thousands of women by now to be satisfied with how they look. Watch for the story of the 19 year old Muslim woman, in the third segment. She has been bartered away in an arranged marriage, and her goal is to have her hymen repaired before the ceremony takes place. What she fears most, is not life with a man she doesn't love, but that her parents might learn that she lost her virginity. (An actress dubs her voice in the film.) "If they find out they will will kill me, and then kill themselves." The fourth segment covers a therapy session which Ms. Rogers believes will be "New Age" or silly, but which surprises her. This is a video in which the horror and the humour are swirling in the same bowl. Well worth the viewing.

The Perfect Vagina - This documentary is served in four parts, so don't panic when the screen goes black. Use your mouse to move the bar past the gaps.

I just found this Doc on VIMEO, and I see it's had over a million plays since 2008. The link to VIMEO feed is here.

Jamie McCartney's completed art work The Great wall of Vagina can be seen here. One panel is on display in the documentary, but the whole is massive.

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