About the War in Northern Myanmar

Oct 28, 2015 - Nov 25, 2015 Projects

Opening: Oct 28, 2015 16:00 Wednesday
Curator: Cui Cancan
Artists: Zhang Yue , Bao XiaoWei
Address: Gallery Yang
Even being born as late as in 1980s, we can still say of our generation that we had been “poisoned” by the Soviet Union’s literature. There was a classic piece of revolution in our primary school’s Chinese textbook, a paragraph in which was so classic that most of us could recite: “The most valuable thing of men is life, and everyone only has a single chance to live a life. Therefore one ought to live his life in this way: when the time came and one looked back upon his life, he didn’t show remorse for his having achieved nothing, nor was he ashamed of his vainly passing years. Then he in his death bed could say that I had dedicated all my life and energies to the most valuable cause of human being – striving for the liberation of mankind.”I didn’t grasp the deep message of this paragraph until many years later when I went through the whole novel – The Making of Steel – in my youth. This high-pitch over-romantic devotional revolutionism was not very popular among my friends. Still it was highly inciting and often occurred to me like an imaginary hole left in my chest by a bullet penetrating through. I wonder if the “heartstrings” people talk about is no other than the hollowness of this hole.At a midnight in a late winter, Zhang Yue, I and some others wandered about, idling. Once emptiness came close to us, we’d like to taste it thoroughly. Drinking could do. At that time, by being unrealistic, boldly fantasying, talking high-pitch words, and touching the holes of chests, we could still splendidly wrapped up a day which started mediocrely. In that March, Zhang Yue and BaoXiaowei went to the battlefront in Kokang, Myanmar. It was the day after we drank. The last topic at that night was “going to the frontline”, but no one really knew that this self-caressing of drunks could turn reality in broad daylight. They went to Kuiming, then to Nansan, where they crossed the border line on motorbike taxi. Around the border line, an odour smelling like that of firecrackers was permeating in theair, which came from bullets and gun shells. They stayed in a refugee camp in Kokang, a part of the Golden Triangle. All sorts of people camped there: tea peasants, tobacco growers, retired or active soldiers, drug dealers, whores, casino bosses, human traffickers, and girls to be sold. In the daytime, they helped refugees to put up shacks, carried in and distributed goods, and made toys for kids. At nights, apart from the sounds of guns, the refugees could also enjoy some music, the song Auld Lang Syne Zhang Yue played for them with his harmonica.During those long 45 days, they encountered robbery and deaths, met many men who would fight for a mouthful of rice, and got to know the cruelty of war and paltriness of mankind. The high-pitch thing turned into fear, pity, and helplessness in reality. Zhang Yue and BaoXiaowei came back to Beijing in April, and brought with them pictures and files, wishing that they could exchange them for some rice. They went to Kokang again in June with 50,000 jins( 25,000 kilograms) of rice, and distributed rice among more than 6,000 households of refugees. Nothing is more important than living on.It is a story that cannot possibly happen in a studio. And it happened in a way for which one could find no guidance in art. The feelings, lives, and struggles they experienced are much more important than the appearances of living. They were mad, authentic, and mentally split. They didn’t want to live and achieve nothing in reality, but had no idea what else they could do except vainly passing times in art. No one really wants to live an ordinary life, and to a considerable extent we rely on those high-pitch words to keep passionate and hopeful. In this way, even when successful or doing well, we could still feel ourselves being good, humble and without any accomplishment, then feel down, despairing and weeping, while deriving from these feelings the courage to degenerate and the strength to resist life.At least, during those days Zhao Yue and BaoXiaowei had reconstructed their lives in a time when possibilities have been submerged and complexities have been simplified.

  • Bullet Holes in the War Zone in North Myanmar | Zhang Yue

    Photography | C-print | 80 × 120 cm

  • Distribution of Rice | Zhang Yue

    Other | 300 × 260 cm | 2015

  • Diary | Zhang Yue

    Installation | 38 × 58 cm | 2015

  • Maidihe Refugee Camps | Bao XiaoWei

    | Acrylic on Canvas | 570 × 120 cm | 2015

  • Cartoons | Zhang Yue

    Other | 2015

  • Drawings from Life in Refugee Camps | Bao XiaoWei

    | Sketch on Paper | 2015

  • Portraits of the Kokang Refugees | Bao XiaoWei

    | Acrylic on Canvas | 100 × 200 cm | 2015

  • Drawings from Life in Refugee Camps | Bao XiaoWei

    | Acrylic on Canvas