© 2011-2024 Photography of China
-- Artist statement
In 2005, I went back home, back to my familiar land, the home furnishings remains constant year round: old sofa fell in the shadow, plastic flowers beside my window had been covered with dust, the wall decorations suddenly have a kind of sad poetry. Home hides the reality of being ignored in the flow of time, which remains silent, conservating the secret of life.
These images are on my home, on my way back home all along the water of Yangtze River, where as the conduct of the Three Gorges water conservancy project has undergone tremendous upheaval: lived here for generations of countless families were moved to the field, to unknown area, for the begin of an unknown life.
All along my way home, watching old cities those about to disappear, watching new cities those are under construction, in the ever rising water I can still feel the desperate life itself will shine bright sun, and the warmth of sun behind the young boy, in the wilderness I feel myself returning home; the faces come and go before my lens, their expressions are as silent as still life, which make me respect deeply.
ASH refers to the ashes of death: “In the cycle of life, one goes back to where one came from, all souls return to their creator.”
Year 2009 marked the fifth year of my project “Going Home”, yet the number of pictures that I took in the Three Gorges region gradually declined. Practical reasons made it impossible for me to face the silent and forbearing local people any longer, and so I returned to my hometown to ponder on how to continue my work. Slowing down to give more time for reflection, I took on an old view camera. The change was initially intended to capture how individuals look in reality. I discovered that the countenances and expression from the eyes are filled with the contradictory facets of both hope and helplessness.
May 2010, my daughter was born. From then on my perception of life changed. I began to explore the world through the eyes of a child. Curiosity is the starting point of how children view and interact with the world; the things around them are of the greatest interest. Thus emerged the concept for the photo series “Still Objects”. For example, metal wires in a vase. When the light imprints on the wall the shadow of the vase filled with twisted metal wires, the image is beautiful, but at the same time brutal. Since then I’ve slowly begun to observe every aspect of daily life and to love this world instead of ridiculing it. When I used the view camera to re-understand my hometown as it is now, I’ve discovered that all things in the real world derive from our internal desire: the karma cycle of yearning for nature, destroying nature, and mending nature. Hence, I’ve gone to nature to look for the three unchangeable elements – mountain, water, and stone – to observe the traces of time and history and restored to nature its very essence: solemn, respectful, and mysterious. I had formerly felt resentful of the world and viewed everything in the worst light. Now I like to look at things and objects as they are – in this simple world in which we live.
These images are taken from understandings gleaned from my daily life, the traces of time and history in nature, and a person”s thoughts of the future when faced with reality.
(Translated by Johnson Lin)
Behind The Wall records many of my journeys to experience China, as I tried to get closer to the lands beyond my hometown in my own way. With a large format camera, I recorded the world that resonates with me. The automobile data recorder in the middle of the vehicle witnessed the 128,658 kilometers I traveled, which represent the objective records that go beyond myself. After numerous observations and experiences, the unknown lands and field domains constituted the walls for me - a traveler surround by different feelings. For example, the relics of the Great Wall in the desolate lands of North China impressed me as the high walls exclusive to my mind.
The intriguing daily lives I’ve experienced as a traveler come from towns and villages that are both fresh and old. The images I recorded are tantamount to portraits, which are pure and implicit to be compatible with the crevices and contradictions in the lands full of histories and memories.
For China, villages and cities seem to be two different worlds that are interconnected and mutually interactive. However, people today may find it difficult to live comfortably in these lands, which function as invisible walls and a mirror to enable people clearly see the roads they are walking on.
About the artist
As the founder of Muge Studio, Muge 木格 was born in Chongqing in 1979. Now, he has settled down in Chengdu. Muge has received the reputation as "Photographer of the Year" awarded by PDN”30, the news magazine in photography in 2013. IMA in Japan named him as one of the 16 notable photographers born in 1970s to 1980s. He has also won awards such as the American HeyHotShot Photographer Award, Daylight Photo Juror Pick Award (2012) and the Nominated Foam Paul Huf Award (2011). In 2012, he earned the Best Photography Award of Dali, China. His works have been collected by numerous institutions and individuals, including Holland's OBC Bank, Shanghai Center of Photography and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.