Eternal Rays of the Sun series were works Geng Jianyi has prepared specifically for the 1993 Venice Biennale. The work may seem to embody the “political pop” style, when in fact the artist’s emphasis was not to highlight the red, bright and glorious background of the Cultural Revolution and its representation of the farmers, worker, and soldiers class. Instead, it concealed a visual game where the center of each painting consists of the shifting foci of the group photograph on the backside of the 5 yuan bill. As if these paintings are five fixed frames of an animation, the radiant background could thus be taken out of the political myth and be restored to its initial impetus in visual design. In this sense, this work was meant to disenchant, rather than creating a myth to demystify, it confronted the experiences of a time through an individual’s everyday sentiments, this was the ingenuity Geng Jianyi has preserved throughout his lifetime.
Geng Jianyi, Eternal Rays of The Sun, Oil on canvas, 195×133cm×5, 1992
Xiang Qian Museum is an ongoing collection of artworks that exists in Hu Xiangqian’s mind. According to the artist, a museum collection is usually a collection of materials – the physical existence of artworks, while the collection at Xiang Qian Museum is represented through the artist’s body and conveyed to the audience–Xiang Qian Museum is non-materialistic. Hu believes art exists through his performance without physical form, as he said: “I think the best thing about art is that we are able to carry it around to wherever we go.”
I considered this series of work as a diary of a journey, in which accidental encounters and interesting happenings unfolded. At the same time, “events” were produced. Landmarks are the witness of the journey. I worked hard to make this series of work into “landmarks” of the landmarks so the audience can remember them.
The geographic environment stimulated me to test out the most basic physical movements of my body—”self-rotating,” or more precisely, rolling. This imagery came from the tiresof an automobile’s wheels. The slow walk of the participants required an enduring self- consciousness that made their brains numb. Their awareness of the distinction between themselves and the other pedestrians evoked a paradoxical state of mind. But what is more, they were also thinking about me rolling behind them. When I walked on the Golden Gate Bridge, I looked down to the fascinating ocean. But reason prevented me from jumping. Then, I decided to slowly roll down the bridge on the pavement. Fighter planes repetitively flew over my head. I became aware that they were supervising me. At the end, the U.S. Navy understood: This was art. Then they did not come back to disturb us any more. Luckily, they became the greatest audience of my work.