Gently Savage by Yanyun Chen

Gently Savage (2022) by Yanyun Chen responds to the writings of French psychoanalyst and philosopher Anne Dufourmantelle, referencing her posthumous text, Power of Gentleness, where she praises the risks of living with, in, and through gentleness. She reminds us, “Gentleness is what turns traumatic intrusion into creation. It is what, during the haunted night, offers light; during mourning, a beloved face; during the collapse of exile, the promise of a shore on which to stand.” At the same time, there is an anguished form of deadly gentleness, where melancholia knots the body and gentleness consents to this complete disconnection, self-oblivion. It is here that Yanyun Chen draws from conflict in a gentle savagery, staging and twisting her floral motifs, object-nostalgia, and classical technique into a performance of melancholia. Living is risking, and the gently savage tumbles with the savaged gentleness.

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