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2017-2018 Manchuria

In this peculiar land, historically referred to as “Manchuria” while now commonly mentioned as “the Northeast,” a few centuries have witnessed the vicissitudes of the Qing Dynasty, the beginning of the most humiliating national memories throughout China’ history, and the disasters and failures recently caused by large-scale privatization, which all left graven marks on the earth. 

These inscriptions, visible and invisible, are unceasingly evoking nostalgia for lost futures, that is, melancholy or morose memories of the ancien régime and public imaginations devoted to the future in question. Yet beyond these reminiscences and visions, the reality of life in this soil has been expelled and disremembered.

In popular culture, the Northeast has merely become semiotic discourse epitomized by a morbid, narcissistic posture disguised as a unifying identity, and even the people of the Northeast are often incorporated into fixed repertoire and roles by the media, given over to the large-scale cultural reproduction. 

Viewing these images that are virtually not “Northeast” but apparently “Northeast,” as a person from “Northeast,” I seem to be living elsewhere in a way a thing is deprived of the very essence without which it would not be what it is, reminding me of the void of being myself.

Hence this “big other” shown in my work is not only an effort to break stereotypes but also resembles a state of “besieged city” where people outside want to get in and inside out. In the teeth of the odds that my attempt puts these “somewhere else” in the danger of being alienated into spectacles, it is the work that is the most faithful and realistic representation of the mortification and tension that “Northeast” and “Northeast people” are suffering.

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