Chinese History in Animal Time – Huang Rui solo exhibition

In the BAMA gallery, the Rat, the Ox, the Tiger, the Rabbit, the Dragon, the Snake, the Horse, the Sheep, the Monkey, the Cock, the Dog and the Pig stand proud and tall on their marble plinths. Each of the 12 animals of the zodiac dominates an assembly of 60 bricks, inscribed, one after the other, with the years dating from 1924 to 2643. At one glimpse, our eyes see 720 years: historical time already recorded by the historians from 1924 to 2008, and the coming, projected time from 2009 to 2643.

 

Animal Time” is an installation that echoes its historical setting in time, “Animal Time: Beijing2008”, simultaneously exhibited on the ramparts of Aurelius’ ancient walls in Rome. More than 10,000 km from Beijing, 4 cycles of 720 years trace the History of China starting with the unification of the Empire under the Emperor Qin Shi Hhuang in 221BC and ending in 2043. Laid out on the floor are 2,229 recycled bricks brought over from Beijing recording 2,229 years since the year 221 BC, up until this year – 2008. The last cycle therefore remains unfinished, and in the spaces left empty on the floor you can see the dates of the years to come simply chalked in, emotive outlines of a future time that will one day be covered by bricks, soon 2009, 2010…. And so it is that “Animal Time: Beijing2008” finishes its historical path in Beijing in the BAMA gallery. The full meaning of this installation then becomes clear, a two part narration of the History of China with historical time belonging to the past exhibited in Rome and future time, where Huang Rui picks up the historical thread of his narration, in Beijing; both ends joining together to create one complete and same work.

 

The aesthetic emotions that “Animal Time” evokes come from the layout of codes that are revealed when observing the piece. A “mineral” work, Animal Time is made of bricks and stones, which echo no doubt by pure coincidence the four elements of earth, fire, water and air. But especially, the recycled bricks, steeped in the memories of the city and people who lived within their walls in another time, remind us that the cycle on which the whole piece is based is not only theoretical, but can also be found in the materials used. The coding is nearly perfect when you realise that there is little more than a complete cycle of 720 years that separate the construction of Dadu, ancient city of Beijing founded by Kubila Khan in 1272 under the Yuan, and the destruction of the oldest quarters of Beijing. As if the coding has to be “humanised” to remind us that behind each recorded historical memory hides a multitude of lives that history has forgotten.

 

Huang Rui succeeds to visually and physically capture the concepts that ordain our understanding of time.

 

Bérénice Angremy

Curator

动物时间的中国历史 – 黄锐个展

在BAMA展室里,鼠、牛、虎、兔、龙、蛇、马、羊、猴、鸡、狗、猪屹立在大理石座上,12种干支属性的动物被安放在60块砖组成的方阵的上面,方阵中每一块砖上都陆续标注了从1924-2643年的各个年代。我们一眼就能扫过720年的时段:其中的1924-2008年是已经载入史册的年份;2009-2643年,这是虚拟的未来。一共是720块砖,每一块砖上手刻了三种纪年法:西方的公元纪年、中国的皇朝纪年(1949年后统一到公元纪年,2008年以后成为空白部分)、干支纪年(由10天干及12地支排列而成)。根据黄锐的排列方法,12种干支动物守候着干支60年的循环得720年,720年为动物干支纪年的大循环。

 

《动物时间》的组合对应了历史的历程。《动物时间-北京2008》同时在也在古罗马的主城墙上展出。在远离北京万里之遥的地方,4组720年的大循环展开了中国的历史,上至公元前221年秦始皇统一中国,下至2043年,来自北京的2229块砖石记录了从公元前221年开始直到2008年共2229年的时间。最后一个干支大循环尚未完成,空余的地上仅用粉笔标注着未来的几十个年,这些字迹令人动容,它们不久也会被砖石填满:2009年、2010年...《动物时间》最后应该在北京的BAMA展室完成它的历史历程,这两部分的组合讲述了中国的两段历史,意义深远:过去的历史在罗马展出,未来的历史在北京,黄锐把历史的主线串起来,两段时空连成一部作品。

 

《动物时间》在美学上的动人之处在于一种编码排列,它随着作者的视点被揭示开来。这是我们第一次看到黄锐艺术创作中的“砖石”作品,砖石作为素材也许形成了水、火、土、气的作为中国元素的四行巧合。但更重要的是,这些收集来的旧砖自身蕴涵着城市的记忆,它们还记录了那些过去时代里默默无闻的工匠和住户。旧砖提醒我们:作品所反映的循环不仅仅是理论上的循环,它切实存在于素材本身。720多年前,忽必烈于1272年建大都,也就是北京旧城,而今一个干支大循环过去,人们正在推掉北京老城区,当我们意识到这一点时,我们发现,黄锐的计算几乎是完美的了。仿佛只有将符号“人性化”,我们方能想起每一段历史记忆的背后都有数不清的、被历史遗忘了的生活。

黄锐通过视觉和物质的效果让我们解读时间的概念,他做到了。

策划人:黎静