“The Same Behavior Different Meaning”—My Performance Art

      In the exhibition “The Old Summer Palace Moves 1,400 Kilometers Southward”, the interpretation of the OldSummerPalaceis still my principle. I have combined the explaining stone which explains tragic destruction of theOldSummerPalaceand “Twelve Zodiacs” series together, and have placed them in contrast with theExpoGardens. This exhibition incorporates many existing products, video and installation works. For example, there are videos of Chinese Kunqu opera ThePeach Blossom Fan and the Western classic opera “La Traviata”, as well as the installations of mahjong and so on. In addition to the works of visual perception, there is a huge, time-consuming implementation behind the exhibition, which is the handling of explanation stones, mud and some objects from theOldSummerPalace. In my opinion, this process itself is a performance art, and it is also the real meaning of “move” in the title of the exhibition.

      As we know, performance art and photography are two interrelated and paralleled developments in art. Ever since the day photography was born, it has moved towards the realization of its own artistry. Today, contemporary conceptual photography is more closely linked with various kinds of art. Many performance artists take photography as a record, and my photography is the same. However, my works are not dependent on behaviors; instead, they have more independent artistic values of their own. At the same time, the meanings of behavior behind the images are indelible. I borrowed 15 explanation stones and some mud from theOldSummerPalaceand moved them south. The process of selection and movement are associated with my attitudes towards the history of theOldSummerPalace. I know that similar things had also occurred 150 years ago, although they can not be called art. And the difference is that I borrowed interpretation stone, but the western aggressors seized the assets in theOldSummerWinterPalacethrough an extremely rude and immoral manner. The same actions “move away” in fact have very different meanings to theOldSummerPalace.

      The director in charge of the Relics Park of the Old Summer Palace, the curator of this exhibition, as well as some staff of came to the spot to help with me. We carefully selected 15 stones. They suggested the value of culture and history. We aimed to make theOldSummerPalacemore well-known to the world. Some of my colleagues carefully measured, cleaned, and packed the stones for fear of causing any damage. We spent a whole day working there. But in history, the western powers only used three days to burn almost all of the artifacts here, destroying an area of 16 million square meters and burying a 150-year Chinese cultural site. When they “move something away”, what we discover was their cruelty and bloodiness, as well as their desire for money and interests emerging in the fume. It is very worth considering that two similar “movements” have very different meanings. I recorded our work with a digital video. I regard it as important as the exhibition itself.

      When photography came toChina, theOldSummerPalacewas still a beautiful park, but its beauty did not get recorded in photos. The first picture of theOldSummerPalacecame from a German photographer Ernst Ohlmer. I was not lucky enough to see the originalOldSummerPalace. Now I can only record this “Brokeback Venus”. Needless to say, it still has infinite connotations. The relics in theOldSummerPalacequietly express their existence and have inspired infinite imagination. I would like to keep its culture and history with my camera.

      July, 2010.

  • Update:2016-03-03 14:01:00
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