Performance artist Ruan Jen-chu (阮仁珠), who has become the eighth “bronze statue” in the famous kung ba kung kung Jian Sheng Chinese medicine clinic TV commercials, says she hopes future commercials will be more artistic and have more substance.
Kung ba kung kung, or 0800, in Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese), is the toll-free number used in the commercial.
Ruan, 54, who worked as a butcher in a traditional market in Fongshan (鳳山), Greater Kaohsiung, for about 30 years, came into contact with theater by chance in 1984, and came to public notice in 2005 after her performance at the National Exhibition for Performing Arts at Wei Wu Ying was covered by the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper).
In the past decade, the 0800 commercial, directed by Chang Shun-chung (張順忠), has gained popularity for using models to represent the “bronze statue,” a figure often seen at traditional medicine clinics to show the acupuncture points on the human body.
Ruan said she had seen the commercial before and felt it was “cheap, but packed a powerful message,” adding that she had never thought she would have a chance to be part of the video.
“While comments by netizens on the commercial only have a minimal effect on me, I am sorry to see they are spending their time critiquing it instead of using that time to be creative,” Ruan said.
Ruan said she was seeking to strengthen women’s rights over their bodies and break the exclusive standard on beauty. She said she was willing to try various means to achieve those ideals and would not allow negative criticism to change her mind.
Ruan said people had only been clothing themselves for a few thousand years, and that a clothed human would not necessarily be more comfortable than a naked primordial human.
If modern humans could “let themselves go” maybe they could see their real selves and the needs and desires they are suppressing, Ruan said.
In the commercial, Ruan appears in a state of undress, her body coated in bronze paint.
She said that she took the job to broaden her experience and to make some money, but added that she was disappointed that the commercial was too profit-centered and lacking in artistic creativity.
“If I ever have the chance of participating in commercials again, I hope to talk with the advertising company about increasing the artistic content and giving the commercial more substance,” Ruan said.
In an interview with TV reporters, Chang said that the clinic repeatedly changed models because viewers complained the company only selected male models, and they wanted to see a female model.
However, in its last commercial, the commercial used a female model in a bikini, so it failed to have the desired effect, Chang said, which was the reason why they had asked Ruan to make the commercial.
“We hope we can leave a deep impression on the viewers,” Chang said.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer