Part I, exhibition views in the right attic, Witte Rook, Breda

Appearances of a Cultural Jet Lag
Mixed media installation that consists of two parts
Part I, painting installation, in the right attic
Part II, video, 00:05:44, sound, in the left attic
2022

The presentation is inspired by the old Chinese idiom, “束之高阁 “, the literal meaning is “tied up in a bundle on a high shelf”, which means put aside and just let them gather dust.

Dead leaves constructed the willow branch figure, which Guanyin usually holds in one of her/his hands.

First Guanyin Buddha portrait, 43×84 cm

Fourth Guanyin Buddha portrait (front), black rope glued on canvas, 61×96 cm
Size of other two paintings:
220×153 cm in fabric 
47×64 cm in rice paper, with a 230 cm wooden sticker

What is the compensation when the consistency of our life is broken? Shanghai, and many places in China are developing rapidly as a result of the changing economy. As an indigenous from a traditional village in Shanghai, I seem to be switched from one social context to another. The way of living and even the language is changing and disappearing. For the younger generation, we don’t mourn what we lost in our culture (collective unconscious); If we realize we may consider it a disappearing uncivilized thing. 

During the residency in Witte Rook, I took traditional Chinese Buddha paintings as the starting point because worshiping gods and ancestors were conventional activities for native Shanghainese. I tried to paint the Guanyin Buddha portrait as similar as it was to my childhood memory (but I never learned it). I used the traditional Chinese ink and rice paper at the beginning and gradually switched to oil painting, canvas even black rope. It is a metaphor for how I westernized myself to adapt to a new social context. Buddha’s changing shapes in the four paintings appear to measure the distance between me and my culture. The fourth painting becomes abstract because I sometimes know more about European culture than the Chinese. The “side effect” of migrations. (part I)

Part II, video in the left attic, 00:05:44, sound

Collective nostalgia is history, but what about personal nostalgia? Is it just narcissism on what an individual’s lost? In part II, I printed the house I lived in (Shanghai, the area is gone now) and used a protest gesture to display the photos through the window of my current home in Rotterdam. At the end of the protest, I fell my half-naked body straight forward to the ground; the video is almost silent until the smashed sounds appear at the end. I exhibited the video in the left attic of Witte Rook. The audience needed to look up through the small entrance of the attic.

A friend of mine told me: “Where there is suffering, there is art.” I cannot say whether I agree with her, but I realized speaking through art is a way to compensate for my trauma.