Chambers Fine Art Beijing is pleased to announce the opening on October 25, 2008 of Mochou by Qiu Zhijie, his second exhibition at the gallery following The Shape of Time: Light Calli-photography by Qiu Zhijie at Chambers Fine Art New York in 2006. The installation and a new series of woodcuts and ink drawings on paper are associated with the artist’s ongoing investigation of the history of Nanjing and in particular the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge, inaugurated in 1968 and regarded as a great triumph of Chinese power and resourcefulness.
In recent years Qiu Zhijie has been focusing on projects that require extensive travel and documentation in association with the production of works of art in a variety of media. Beginning with his association with the first phase of the Long March Project, continuing with his epic journey from Lhasa to Khatmandu in the footsteps of Nain Singh and now with his deep involvement with the city of Nanjing, Qiu Zhijie has embarked on an ambitious cultural voyage, investigating aspects of Chinese history and culture as they impinge on life today. Most ambitious by far is A Suicidology of the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge, the title for an ongoing project involving documentation, research and social activism (in this case, working with a suicide-prevention squad) in association with the production of works of art in many media. Mochou is affiliated with Qiu Zhijie’s gesamtkunstwerk though in an indirect way.
His association with Nanjing began in 2005 when he curated Archaeology of the Future, the second Nanjing Triennial. From the second half of 2007, he began to focus on the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge and in particular the relationship between this potent symbol and the high rate of suicides that occur there. Research and documentation led to a wide range of artistic productions, including a group of editioned prints and unique works on paper made at Singapore Tyler Print Institute and independent installations such as Mochou.
Related to one of the lithographs, the installation at Chambers Fine Art Beijing is based on the legend of Mochou, a young girl who lived in the Qin Dynasty, who was so poor that she had to sell herself to pay for her father’s funeral. Deeply unhappy in her marriage, she committed suicide in the lake that now bears her name and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Nanjing.
The central feature of Qiu Zhijie’s installation is a large, crystalline abstract sculpture, originally a scholar’s rock from which all the naturally formed projections have been sliced off. These are attached to the wall of the gallery. A path for the blind enables the visually impaired to touch the rocks and feel their way around the gallery while a stream of water trickles down the abstract sculpture, beginning the process that will eventually return it to its original form as a scholar’s rock. Accompanying the installation is a new series of woodcuts and ink drawings on paper, further variations on Qiu Zhijie’s haunting and mysterious imagery. By focusing on the bridge which is such a potent symbol of China’s emerging power and related themes from China’s past such as Mochou, Qiu Zhijie explores themes such as time, memory and destiny, issues that have always been central to his interests in whatever medium he worked.