Story of the Expo Parks (Wanguo Yuanji) by Fu Wenjun made a hit in the 55th Veni
At the 55th Venice Biennial, a group of conceptual photography works named Story of the Expo Parks was exhibited at Chinese Art Exhibition: the Unheard Voice. They aroused great praise from artists and critics of the world. The author, Fu Wenjun, is a famous artist of contemporary art. He was born in Chongqingand graduated from Sichuan Fine Arts Institute. Now he is with us to share how these works came into being.
Picture: Eight modern expos are juxtaposed with the ruined oldSummerPalace
Mr Fu has just returned toChongqingand is very happy to see his works shock the world at the 55th Venice Biennial. It is reported that Chinese Art Exhibition: the Unheard Voice is held in a deserted armory, with an area of 5000 square meters. The exhibition has such nine themes as memory, history, village, the underclass, body, debris, family, scenery, and curses. More than 100 artists have taken their works to this exhibition. It is the first time to see such a great many of artist gather at an art exhibition.
Fu Wenjun’s Story of the Expo Parks is exhibited at the history-themed section. It consists of eight photos; the size of each photo is 1.5 meter by 3.27 meter. The whole work is about 15 meter long.
The major scene of these photos are the modern expos of eight countries, namely the UK, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Austria, the USA and Russia, at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. In the center of each photo is an open desktop, on which the ruined oldSummerPalaceis presented after being searched atwww.baidu.com. The open desktop is telling the audience like a book the history of that period and the great change ever occurred.
At the sight of these photos, the audience cannot help thinking of the invasion made by troops of the above eight nations, and of the ruined image of the oldSummerPalace.
Inspiration: the desire to present the impression of theSummerPalace.
Why does Mr. Fu juxtapose eight expos of these eight nations with the ruinedSummerPalaceon a desktop?
We are told by Mr. Fu that his inspiration of creation originates from the creation of Twelve Chinese Zodiac Signs (Shier Shengxiao) in 2009. Before 2009, with the keen insights of an artist, Mr. Fu has taken many documentary photos in theSummerPalace. After returning toChongqing, he started to study day and night “the Garden of All Gardens”, which used to be superior in beauty and grandeur.
“At that time I racked my brain to present my impression of theSummerPalace, and tried to find some connection between my impression and the ruined scene,” said by Mr. Fu. In February, 2009 he heard that the bronze head statue of rat and that of rabbit were being auctioned inParis. Instantly, the period of sad history came into his mind: in 1860, theUKandFranceunited, invadedChinaand burned theSummerPalace. From that time on, the bronze head statues of the twelve Chinese zodiac signs were lost and they are the most important part of the lost historic relics ofChina.
Mr Fu continued, “Our memory easily fades away, so how to keep our memory in the Internet Age?” Soon, he thought of computer, the internet and then got the inspiration of creation.
Process of creation: Mr. Fu went to theSummerPalaceeight times and took as many as ten thousand photos.
My work Twelve Chinese Zodiac Signs (Shier Shengxiao) consists of twelve photos, and takes theSummerPalaceand the lost bronze head statues as the theme. TheSummerPalaceis the general setting. In its center is an open desktop, on which twelve bronze head statues seated respectively.
For the raw material, Mr. Fu went to theSummerPalacefor eight times and took as many as ten thousand photos.
These twelve bronze head statues represent the 12 two-hour periods of the day. In those years, water would be sprayed from the mouth of one bronze animal statue. When two hours is passed, the water spray shifted to the mouth of the next animal statue. In order to find the exact corresponding relation between the hour and the animal statue, Mr. Fu took photos of theSummerPalaceof each hour, and once stayed there for more 30 hours. Afterwards, Mr Fu spent 5 months on post-production of these photos. He added, “The most important part of conceptual photography is post-production and my thoughts shall be expressed through the joining and juxtaposition of these photos.”
At the end of 2009, Twelve Chinese Zodiac Signs was completed and exhibited atBeijingTodayArt Museumin July, 2010. It made a great hit. In this year, it’s exhibited at the Hall of Dilapidated Walls to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the ruin of theSummerPalace.
Later the Administrative Office of the Palace collected this work and made a permanent exhibition of it. It’s the first work of contemporary art that is collected by the Office.
Exhibition: Story of the Expo Parks made a hit
When he was creating Twelve Chinese Zodiac Signs, Mr. Fu was thinking the connection between theSummerPalaceand the expos at the Shanghai World Expo for some historic examination.
We are told by Mr. Fu that these two groups of works are consistent. “I want to examine the involution and development of our nation through the perspective of historical existence and transitions. In this way, deeper historic meaning can teach us to proceed and do more in-depth thinking.
At the 55th Venice Biennial, Story of the Expo Parks made a hit. It’s reported by Hong Kong Phoenix TV, 99YS web, National TV of Italy and so on. The travel to Venice Biennial helps Mr. Fu make his dream come true, namely, letting the world know his work and be moved by it.
A misunderstanding: Conceptual photography is equal to photo taking
Nowadays, many people are not familiar with conceptual photography. They prefer to take it as valueless photos. According to Mr Fu, it is a misunderstanding. He tells us conceptual photography is to treat photos as the medium for conceptual art creation. It aims to reveal and expose our living conditions and pose some meaning topic for more in-depth thinking.
“Conceptual photography is quite popular in recent years.” said Mr. Fu. For example, at the 55th Venice Biennial, nearly two thirds of the photos are of conceptual photography. As to the commercial value, artwork of conceptual photography is not less valuable than the normal painting.
“The domestic market for conceptual photography is not yet fully developed.” The price of these art works is not high at present, so it is a good opportunity to collect the conceptual photography. Finally, Mr.Fu shares with us how to tell true art work from fake ones. Works of conceptual photography have limits in number. “At the bottom of every piece of work, there is a serial number for identification. If the serial number marked like this, 1/20, it means this group of conceptual photography consists of twenty pieces, and this is only the first one.”