History Is a Show of Formality
The representation of history follows the form in which “one man ends his song, and the next comes on”—no such things as an absolute field or center is ever existed in it. Even to Bourdieu, the French philosopher who advocates the theory of “Field”, history is a changing social space where the relation between capital and power counts. The destined fate of The Winter Palace (Garden of Gardens) was doomed to become a “ruin”; while that of the British pavilion in the Expo Garden is simply to be demolished—the arcane truth within it is too complicated to trace.
Some 150 years have passed, from 1860, the time when The Winter Palace had been looted by the imperialists’ troops, to 2010, the year when various countries met at the ExpoGarden. The jungle law has never changed in these 150 years. So have changes happened in the world. In spite of numerous faces these propagandas may have—“the end of history”, “the clash of civilizations”, “the rise of postmodernism”, and so on and so forth;there are actually four main trends of thought that take effect, namely, Darwin’s Evolutionism (1859), Marx’s Capitalism(1867), Freud’s theory of Libido (1905), and Keynes's theory of Effective Demand(1936).
It is based on his contemplation upon the subtle relation between nothingness and verity in history (Yet Heaven and Earth and all that lies between is like a bellows! Tao Te Ching) that Mr. Fu Wenjun expresses his thought on the Tao of history through photography, and reaches the conclusion that all history is a show of formality. The once recognized leading actor plays a bit role today; while the villain of the piece is now the hero. All successes and failures in the past cannot be evaluated by today’s criterion. It may be interpreted in an ancient Chinese stanza, “I saw them build the courtesan's quarters, saw them feast and make merry. But I saw, too, how the building collapsed”. I can imagine Mr. Fu Wenjun’s emotional attachment and sympathy towards the nation and the history when he saw The Winter Palace in the sunset, and had a bird-eye view over theExpoGarden. Therefore, when he asked me to conduct the exhibition, I could hardly say no.
While in the technological sense of aesthetics, its importance has become insignificant. His collage and appropriation belong to the discourse of contemporary rhetoric. At the anaphase of photographic processing, he practices the ideal of “creating images”. Obviously, creating images is more close to creating things, and the former happens to be the ambition of the artist. I appreciate Mr. Xu Tianjin’s (Professor at the Anthropology Department of Beijing University) words that “Eternity of the contemporary era can be found in the unity between the ancient and the modern”. I shall share it with my colleagues who devote themselves to the course of contemporary art. Historicism and Futurism are selected resources for the immortality of the contemporaneity of contemporary art. The flexible application of these resources is attributed to the creative thinking. As a prestigious senior artist, Fu’s accomplishments and sincerity for artistic pursuits are indisputable.
In front of such a grand gathering of garden party, spanning more than a century, fromBeijingtoShanghai, from barbarity to peace, Fu, being lost in space, has frequently experiences the feeling of wakening from a dream in the garden. Finally, twelve photographic works of The Winter Palace, eight of theExpoGardenhave been produced. In this dream gala, great sound is soundless.
Whereas the force of words is soon spent. Far better is it to keep what is in the heart. Let’s watch.