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
In the artwork, the album was photographed in a way of documentation and colour photos are turned into black and white. Raindrops was chosen as an interpretant to communicate with the audience.
By looking at the photos for many times and heard of my mother’s narrations, they had coined in my mind and also for photos taken before I was born, I would imagine my presence in the scene with my parents.
Since he was the photographer and therefore, he was absent in the photos. However, since all photos were captured through his lens, his "presence" is everywhere in the photos. I could “see” the scenes from his eyes, his lens at the moment he took the photos.
<Family Photo Album: Washing> series, 2013, Pencil, charcoal and inkjet on paper40 x 60 cm (Each of 9), private collection