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Menshen

2021, Sculpture, Plaster, Concrete, Size 30 x 30 x 170 cm (Each)

Installation view at Gallery 4B103, Shanghai as part of the exhibition ‘Drives’, 2021

With the transformations of the interpretation of the past, each historical rupture retroactively changes the meaning of the entire history. The reality of history is not a sublime truth, but the unity of the history and interpreter. The image of Menshen, which means threshold guardians, appears widely in daily life in China, which provides a dimension of appearance for transference, which means the projection of emotions. The subject of the audience is placed in the centre of the work, transcending perceived interpretations of history through the illusion of transference, and moving towards the hidden core of the reality of history. 

In history, the changes in the presentation of Menshen’s characters and costumes have carried the changes in historical traditions over thousands of years. Digging into traditional Chinese aesthetics and cultural background, this artwork reshaped the image of Menshen in modern China, referencing the stone steles and brick walls in Han Dynasty tombs. The broken, repetitive, and stretched image of Menshen symbolized the historical rupture, the de-territorialization and symbolization of history and culture by the mass media in modern society.

 

In China, Menshen posters are displayed on the doors of every household, thus the image of Menshen appears widely in daily life, which provides a dimension of appearance for transference. The transference here tends to replace an authoritarian narrative of history by an individual narrative of history orienting from imagination and personal emotions. By looking at the sculptures, historical and cultural memory joins itself with the subject by the disappearance of authoritarian historic orientation. A fictional past in one’s imaginationis thus to be implied with Nietzschean euphoria and exaltation from a linear connection of the memory of past and subject. A linear connection between the memory of the past and the subject is implied through the simulation of the image of real Menshen.

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Detail of Menshen (2021)

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Detail of Menshen (2021)

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