The Political Factors in Creation
Focusing on the value of art noumenon will easily confine artists in sentimental self-expression. However, artistic creation should be more than that; some major themes can be more readable through the expression of ideas. Move 1400 kilometers Southward to The OldSummerPalace and A Tale of Two Gardens- Will Marvel at a World so Changed are my efforts to try to make works of art achieve historical narrative and a unique epic discourse. Contemporary politics are no longer just problems of politicians; all the intellectuals must face them. They have become social activities which the public are increasingly concerned about and actively participate in. As an artist, I am no exception. I have a responsibility to show my political concern via art rather than being an on-looker.
In fact, A Tale of Two Gardens- Will Marvel at a World so Changed, which was exhibited inChongqing, was another form of Move 1400 kilometers Southward to TheOldSummerPalace, which was exhibited inShanghai. The reason for doing this, on one hand, was because it was an invitation fromChongqing. They hoped that I could reproduce the exhibition inShanghai, so that more people inChongqingcould see the panorama of my works. On the other hand, I also hoped to promote the development of contemporary photography inChongqingthrough this exhibition, and to do something for the city's contemporary culture industry. This Exhibition is a combination of several series of works. Each set is both a stand-alone unit of creation and an integral element. Different from Mere Formality, A Tale ofTwoGardensincludes installation, performance and other dynamic art languages in addition to static photographs, making it a kind of political critique. Its static photos include Zodiacand Gardens of Nations. In Zodiac, I placed a computer showing the photos of twelve copper animals’ heads (which was cut off by Anglo-French Allied Force) on the ruins of The Old Summer Palace, so as to create a feeling of absurdity between image and reality, introduce historical concerns into modern society, and invite people to think about the change of culture in a new historical condition. In the corresponding Gardens of Nations series, I replaced ruins of The Old Summer Palace with scenes ofBritain,France,Germany,Japan,Italy,Austria, theUnited States,Russiaand other countries’ pavilions in 2010 Shanghai World Expo, and replaced the digital images in the computer with broken walls of The Old Summer Palace. As a part of the installation, an explanation stone further promoted the interaction among each part. It connected history with present, and virtuality with reality, which fully interpreted the meaning of history and my thinking. Those two groups of photographic works recorded two gatherings of eight countries inChina, and left with us infinite imagination and inner struggle.
As a recorder of history, the explanation stone and the earth are shown as installations. They witnessed a hundred years’ vicissitudes ofChina, and the prosperity of today’sChinaas well. The connection between two series embodies great changes ofChinaand the psychological changes of Chinese people. It also foreseesChina's future development. I consider thinking history as a way to reflect today, oneself and reality. As a historian Carl once said: "History is mobile and being reconstructed constantly. History is always living among the past, present and future. It not only refers to the past, but also points to the present and future." The ruins of The Old Summer Palace represents the past, alluding World Expo at the moment, predicting the future of "reshuffle", and showing the history we encounter now and will encounter.
I projected the change process of history and results on "mahjong", and via the performance art—“re-shuffling mahjong” to explain the intent of my exhibition. Playing mahjong is a kind of entertainment culture which has a long history. Usually player will constantly re-shuffle their mahjong. I set this behavioral device to explain the discourse of global power, namely the reintegration of politics, culture and economics, through reshuffling. This is not only a contemporary questioning on Chinese culture identity and the form of power discourse, but also an interpretation of the new relationships of the East and the West, such as dialogue, infiltration and symbiosis. The rise ofChinawill make and have already made the overall structure of the global undergo profound changes. And the western powers have been disintegrated gradually and form a new pattern of world’s culture and politics. The results of this new pattern are bound to make the micro and edge power of discourse to be shown. On the other hand, the changes inChinacan be attributed to a sentence of Prelude to Water Melody• Swimming of Chairman Mao: “Will marvel at a world so changed!”