2014/The Monument of One Hundred Thousand Whys
In the work, The Monument of One Thousand Hundred Whys, cleaning utensils, cutters and tapes were used to tear off and leave marks on photographs of a children book which I was fascinated when I was having the happiest time in Mainland China in childhood. The name of One Thousand Hundred Whys was emphasized in this work as a helpless cry out of inability to solve the numerous problems faced in childhood.
“The Monument of One Hundred Thousand Whys”
The late Soviet Union writer Mikhail Il’in (Михаил Ильин) has titled his book “One Hundred Thousand Whys” and quoted a famous poem from an English poet, Rudyard Kipling, in the title page:
Пять тысяч Где,
Cемь тысяч Как,
Сто тысяч Почему!
“Where are the five thousand?
Seven thousand how to do?
One hundred thousand why?”
, where one hundred thousand means “a myriad of”.
In 1961, the publisher Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House issued the first Chinese version of “One Hundred Thousand Whys” (“Shi Wan Ge Wei Shen Me”), and up to now it has been published for over 100 million volumes.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong and Taiwan have also published children pop-science readings and named them “One Hundred Thousand Whys”. The books in Hong Kong and Taiwan introduce primarily general popular science, while the Chinese ones mainly focus on military and science, in addition to cultural and public awareness after the Chinese economic reform. “Shi Wan Ge Wei Shen Me” in China was once popular among children, and it is my favourite reading in my childhood.
Published in 1990s, the Chinese version of “Shi Wan Ge Wei Shen Me” costs 42.30 yuen for 4 volumes. It symbols my childhood in the Mainland, the period when my family was separated.
The history of Mass Migration is gone, and the children suffered have grown up. Now they have to find the social roles that they play. Compared with the whole history of migration happened in Hong Kong, the 1997 incident seems to be short and more peaceful. The tabloids spotlighting on discrimination towards the new immigrant children are no longer omnipresent, but the hurt never fade – you can still read the history through their eyes, especially when you are talking about childhood memories.
The Cover: The Monument of One Thousand Hundred Whys
2014, Charcoal and inkjet on archival paper, 144 x 100 cm
2013/<Family Photo Album: Washing> series
<Family Photo Album: Washing> series, 2013, Pencil, charcoal and inkjet on paper40 x 60 cm (Each of 9), private collection
The series <Family Photo Album: Washing> based on my personal family history and how my family joined The Great Escape to Hong Kong – the history of the tide of mass immigration –in the 70s. It tells the stories of many separated families between Hong Kong and China.
The beginning idea of the project about my migrant background was looking for any material about my deceased father. In the artwork of “<Family Photo Album: Washing> series”, a family album was photographed in a way of documentation.
Family album is a very common memory association. It is private and intimate while at the same time represents collective memory of family and kinship. It was a collection of photos taken by my father recording the life of my parents before I was born and my mother and I lived in Mainland. My father was enthusiastic about photographing us during separation. The intention of depicting emotion towards those happenings is clear. Raindrops was chosen as an interpretant to communicate with the audience.
Found mnemonic material was used in most of my artwork about personal migrant history. The works focuses on personal family memories of the distant past before I was born. (Some of the photos in the album were captured before I was born.) By looking at the photos for thousand times and heard of my mother’s narrations, they had coined in my mind which I imagined my presence in the scene with my parents. I could “see” how this photo was captured by my father who is now passed away.