Wednesday, March 12, 2008

JJ's performance

On Sunday, I went to JJ’s performance at 48 Ji An Road. After I arrived at the address, I wasn’t sure whether I was at the right place or not. I felt like I was in the slums of Shanghai with broken down buildings all around me. But after I went into the courtyard where the performance was taking place, I saw a bunch of cameramen and journalists surrounding this man who was painting on a canvas. I asked one of the reporters who the man was and he was in fact JJ. I started observing JJ draw a very run down building with what I thought was paint but then I realized that he was only painting with water. His artwork was very simple, only outlining the major parts of the structure and never going into too much detail. The whole piece probably only took around fifteen minutes to complete. After he was done, he started taking questions from the reporters while letting the water on the canvas slowly evaporate into the air. All this time, the cameramen patiently documented the whole process of the water disappearing into nothing. Waiting for the water to dry probably took another fifteen minutes to finish. It was as if JJ’s painting never existed in the first place.

I don’t really know how JJ was feeling as he was creating his piece but I was really moved by what he drew and more importantly, the approach he took in making this piece of art. The building that he painted was something that represented the old Shanghai, something that contrasts tremendously with the developed city that we see now. The buildings of this area will soon be demolished to make way for the future of Shanghai—buildings that will contribute to the growth and attractiveness of China such as luxury apartments and other high-rises. I feel that JJ chose to record these buildings in this way because after they get torn down, they are nothing but a memory. These memories only exist in our minds and they mean nothing for the development of China. Perhaps there is no point to have a “proof of their existence” when the new buildings get established. Maybe we should just look on the bright side and realize that taking down these old buildings is only a sign of modernity.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Nobody else I've read has posted up about this part of JJ's performance and I agree it's really intriguing. I too think the concept of painting something with water has a lot of inherited meaning and itself is just neat. Again thanks for the post and pictures!