About Century Text - Installation Part
The newspapers used in Century text were chosen from newspapers printed throughout China and the world. Through rolling and rubbing, I form each newspaper into a newspaper roll, then coated each roll to make it withstand natural elements such as moisture and insects. I tie together eighty rolls to become a slip, which is an important form in Chinese history. I call this bamboo slip style the century text.
Century Text was made over the course of four years, using a total of 120,000 newspapers, and countless layers of emulsion and varnish. After rolling 120,000 rolls and gathering them in groups of 80, I ended up with 1,500 bamboo slips. In order to coordinate with the show, I particularly chose to use old elm wood to make ten Ming style writing desks and thirty classical wooden cases.
I chose to use newspaper to create this work because I think it carries within its form a history of time and information. All the contemporary politics, economy, military, culture, science and technology histories are all within the newspapers. When today has become the past, these newspapers will already become history books. This intrigues me. I think Century Text is a special book to record history, one that is full of countless things that have happened, no matter if they are big or small, interesting or boring, of the world or about China. It is special in that you clearly know that the slips contain lots of information, but you can't read them. Every roll is tied with the seal; the content at this time is only a presence. It makes you feel a kind of paradox between words and non-words, from reading and not reading.
I chose to use writing desks and wooden cases to complete the Century Text installation because I think they have always had a close relation with bamboo slips. The writing desk is for reading, and cases are to store books.
From an artist's view, each unfolded slip is a beautiful picture formed by countless units of words. The bamboo slips forms appearance together with the tables and cases show the visual traditional Chinese aesthetic. Each component of the work, such as each case with 10 bamboo slips packed in it or each writing desk with tens bamboo slips, are like necessary objects for cultured persons, so familiar theyre like family. When all works are placed in line, I'll feel like solemn Qin terra-cotta warriors, mysterious and dignified like the royal collection courtyard, as majestic as the emperors city.
About Century Text - Performance Part
The performance component of Century text is called Century text - Dialogue. It is dialogue between the present and the past, the modern and the traditional, the east and the west. I want to give life to this installation. I want it to have value not only now, but into the future as well.
My work is inspired by the bamboo slips of the Spring and Autumn seasons, in which time Confucius became history's greatest thinker and educator. Confucius Cemetery, Confucius Temple and Confucius Family Mansion are visited by people of all generations and were the first places for me to implement my "Century Text" performance. In the process of implementing this installation, I saw many things, but I cannot relay what I saw very clearly because in the process of installing my work I was feeling a happiness that words cannot describe. In visual arts, no matter where my pieces are located in any place or corner, they are so harmonious, and they naturally come together and create one form. When I take this piece out of the studio and art galleries, out of interior spaces, Century Text breathes a new life that cannot be sensed indoors. This is no longer silent, lifeless work. It has a soul here. From a cultural perspective, the work carries todays countless information in a holy place, and creates dialogue and exchanges information with the ancient traditional culture. Just like jumping out of the circle onto the sidelines, today's world, with its many careless and ugly sides are seen clearly. It also let me have serious thoughts about the concepts of culture and history.
This work is made out of newspapers from around the world. Century Text Dialogue is a piece of performance art being conducted around the world. International dialogue and its cultural collisions really excites me. As for communication, understanding, respect, and ego identity, I begin to think again. I hope my "Century Text Dialogue can bring to modern art a special artistic style, and provide a new means of communication for international culture in the art level.