Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Rita, LEUNG PUI YIN talks on Wu Shan Zhuan, Red Humor, 1986

Red Humor- Red Characters (紅色幽默-赤字), 1986
Wu Shanzhuan
Installation, poster colour and ink on rice paper
3.5 x 4 x 6 m
Artist’s studio, Institute for Mass Culture, Zhoushan
Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) is a terrible and cruel political action, there were lots of intellectuals be crackdowns by the Government. People must remember this dark period in their lives. At the same time, the democracy concept influenced by Western started to bud, part of Chinese didn’t follow the old concept of obeying the Government blindly, and they start to have their self-critical thinking and judging mind. More crackdown give rise more resists. After the Cultural Revolution, People tend to “speak up” indirectly through their words, works and activities. Beginning with a number of provocative exhibitions, an art movement was in bud, the ’85 movement, so called Chinese Avant Grade or Post-Cultural Revolution Art.[1]

 In the Chinese Modern or Postmodern period, ruin and fragmentation are very new features in visual art form and these two features really help and functional in this work. In the period of the Cultural Revolution, books, sculptures, painting, etc, everything related to culture were destroyed, the sphere of cultural likes a ruin. The chaotic sticking is creating a sense of suffocation within a sealed space, which is similar to the chaotic situation of human memory after the painful memories of The Cultural Revolution. As according to Wu Hung, his “ruin imagery did not lead to the reconstruction of a “lost totality” in the imagination, but only to further fragmentation of the past as well as the present.”[2] Past is always found in the present.

The meaningless, wrong use of word and disorderly use of boldfaced writing and informal simplified word jointly create a symbol of talking nonsense and nothing. It produces lexical or symbolic confusion, leading the feeling of cultural deficit, which is the result of the Cultural Revolution. The randomly combination of phrase and characters causes the feeling of misuse of language, a ruin language. The Chinese name of this work also implied a deep argument.  

[2] Gao Minglu,ed., The’ 85 Movement: An Anthology of Historical Sources (Guilin: Guangxi Normal University Press,2008)50-51.

[1] Wu Hung, “Ruins, Fragmentation, and the Chinese Modern/Postmodern” ,in Inside Out: New Chinese Art, ed. Gao Minglu (Berkeley: University of California Press,1999), 61.

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