What reality is real? What do we see? What is illusionary?
I follow a young Chinese woman, maybe she is in her early twenties who takes a picture of red characters written on a wall. She walks through this old hall ignoring the impressive paintings but stops in front of every red slogan, takes a photo and moves on. I can widely imagine how she shares this picture of a China that was only part of her history lesson and kept still about in her own family in every famous Chinese social media. And who serves the people now? Born in China’s glorious times, living a life that ‘the people’ of this other time did not even see coming, observing and somehow in one image representing China’s current antagonism.
Are you happy now? Looking at the boy in the painting myself, I am stunned by his very shy position hiding behind his bent left leg. It seems he feels sorry for his own beauty and cries out loud due to the power that keeps him in the frame. His hat reminds me at a harlequin who wants to hoax us. Are we happy now?
I am not, walking through this dark hall, I feel more and more frustrated, feel like the man who is clearly pointed out as outsider. Being outside, no matter what, this is also the case for me. No matter what I do, I will not be part of this country. I look different, I walk different, I cannot hide and even if I speak Chinese, I may be lucky to understand, promote dialogue, translate but I am still outside. There is an insurmountable difference that only shows me a path to know myself much better than before. But who do I serve then?
The Box at 798
Chinese people packed in a box of matches. I followed this young woman through the exhibition of a Spanish artist and both of us stand about five minutes in front of this very tiny and somewhat simplistic painting. After a long lasting moment she took a picture of the Chinese box of matches. And I framed this moment in my own way. It is the long moment that we stood in front of this rather funny image when I was trying to imagine what she was thinking. For instance, how this box could also be her box or how her life might also have its constraints and how these constraints in China are maybe different from the ones in other places in the world.
These are also moments where I simply realize that there is only one world, not many. We are both captured in this picture. She visible, I invisible – but we are both there, imaging, observing, looking for meaning with different intentions. This implicates a deep connection between our perspectives and although I don’t feel like living in a box, exactly this thought might already put me into the box. But imaging when your box is not enough anymore, who will be of service then?
Copyright by Nadine Godehardt