• Ideas
  • Nov 26, 2021

Artstrology: Sagittarius 2021, Playing Catch

Illustration by Amy Fan for ArtAsiaPacific.

This year, Jupiter’s transit in Aquarius and Pisces has encouraged Sagittarius to write, communicate, or even perform spoken word poetry. After their birthdays, they will gradually shift their focus toward family, properties, and what constitutes their idea of stability, as Jupiter goes direct on December 29.

The centaur’s urge to chase (knowledge, romantic interests) leads to Sagittarius’s inability to stay in one place. Sagittarius, the ruler of Jupiter, symbolizes journeys and foreign things, as well as philosophy and higher education. Sagittarius focuses on making the most out of their expertise, like an arrow forging ahead in one direction. This is why most specialists, educators, or scholars are born with heavy Sagittarius or Jupiter placements.

Sawangwongse Yawnghwe’s life experiences and creative practice embody the very nature of Sagittarius. Born into a royal family in Shan State, which has long struggled for independence from Myanmar, Yawnghwe has been forced into exile since he was young, which has led him to question the idea of nationalism and official narratives. He bases his practice not only on books and theories but also his family archives. His Opium Parallax series (2019) departed from his father Chao Tzang Yawnghwe’s essay “The Political Economy of the Opium Trade: Implications for Shan State” (1993), which examines the drug industry in Shan State and the Golden Triangle. Through 25 paintings, the artist attempts to illustrate the process and materials connected to the trade, including the products, agents, and consumers. He also incorporates diagrams to visualize gaps of knowledge. One painting in the series highlights the connections among individuals, groups, locations, historical events, and modes of human desire through the non-hierarchical structure of a black-and-white mind map. Some phrases look faded, such as “slash and burn colonialism,” “looting,” “plain of jars,” and “legitimate business,” requiring extra attention from the viewers—in this way, Yawnghwe points to neglected events, encouraging further research into these areas. 

Due to Sagittarius’s need for incessant movement, most people see them as players in romantic relationships, but this carefree, childish image could simply be their immature solution to their fear of loss. Those born under the sign can be hopeless romantics who have the potential to commit completely to one person their whole life. This is demonstrated in Félix González-Torres’s dedication to his partner, Ross Laycock, who passed away from AIDS in 1991. During a conversation with painter Ross Bleckner in 1995, González-Torres said, “I never stopped loving Ross. Just because he’s dead doesn’t mean I stopped loving him.” His work Untitled (Perfect Lovers) (1987–91), which features a pair of synchronized clocks, indicates both González-Torres’s fear of running out of time with Laycock and his wish for their time to be synchronized forever. The work helped him cope with his fear of loss, while evoking melancholy, fragility, and beauty.

As a toy lover, González-Torres once believed that the more toys he had, the happier he would become. This childlike quality of the Sagittarius season helps us purge emotional drama and bring fun back. This is especially so in 2021, after the harsh revelations and destruction brought by the full moon and lunar eclipse on November 19. It’s time to let loose and enjoy reunions with family and friends.

Pamela Wong is ArtAsiaPacific’s assistant editor.

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