Dan Edwards: I noticed in a lot of the footage in the film [Ou Ning’s Meishi St (2006)], Zhang [Jinli] is filming the police, but the police have cameras too.
Ou Ning: Yeah, it’s very interesting. You can say that digital technology has had a great impact on Chinese political society. You can see at the end of the film during the demolition process, there are so many cameras on the scene. That means that there are some cameras from the police station, some from our team, some from NGO organisations. The digital technology has brought some opportunity to the people to document history by themselves. This is a great change in China. Before that, history only had one version, by the Chinese Communist Party, but now with digital technology history has different versions. History has a Zhang Jinli version, a Security Bureau version… there’s a lot of different versions, not just one version. That is a great progress in the political situation in China.
Zheng’s work deals with the relationship between the Chinese people and their landscapes, it’s idealised nature as a site for forming, as man-perfected/adjusted material, a symbolic residue or site of potential for human activity.
His works stem from an investigation of his home town of Jixi, a mining town in NE China. Jixi Research Project, ongoing since 2004, is a documentary-like archive of visual and spoken records of the lives of the people living in this town dominated by mining and the consequences of this industry on their lives and landscape. This piece is presented as a 4-channel projection with interactivity, emphasising the audiences participation in the story telling process.
For Sunflower Project, Zheng commissioned his family and friends to plant a large field of sunflowers in the hills surrounding the town of Jixi. The resulting artwork is an ultra-high resolution composite photograph of this field. On the one side in the distance is Jixi and on the other a memorial marking a mass grave of locals killed by the Japanese Army during the occupation of China during the Second World War. The sunflowers act as physical link between the living and the dead, a route of remembrance, reflecting during their short lives the remains of life and death all around them.
The Iranian film-maker, Abbas Kiarostami, signing posters at his show at the Beijing Art Museum of Imperial City, which closes on the 28 February 2008.
Sunday-week (22 July) is a bit of a Patrick Keiller-fest at the tate Modern*.
Two of Keiller’s films are being shown that afternoon, “London” at 1pm and “Robinson in Space” at 3pm. I have both these on DVD so I won’t bother going to see them, but I would heartily recommend them to everyone.
The DVD cover
Then at 6pm the man himself is presenting a lecture about his work.