When browsing the new works made by Ji Wen-Yu & Zhu Wei-Bing, I am reminded of a kind of folk acrobatics called "Shua-Da-Ding" (bamboo flag) by a flash of feeling. Shua-Da-Ding is usually performed by several bare-armed, husky fellows, who support a heavy round pole, the size of which is like a large bowl, the length of several Zhang (unit of length, about 3.3 meters). The bottom of the upright round pole is moved from the arms, to the neck of the fellows, and to the top of his head. The pole is moved smoothly and repeatedly. The spectators usually applaud heavily to encourage the ostentation of the performer for their power and control of the pole. If the cylinder pole in the acrobatic performance will readily remind the psychological analyst of the erectile male genital, the highly held flowers in the works of Ji Wen-Yu & Zhu Wei-Bing can similarly represent female genital. In a real-world society which is made a mess by a horde of men, is there something (the highly-raised flowers) mixed with any retrospection to, or anticipation for matrilineal society!?
The flower and stalk in the works of Ji Wen-Yu & Zhu Wei-Bing follow the popular colors in gaudy art (I think the consistence is practical. It allows the extension of gaudy campaign at least from a local site). Contrast to the sturdy round pole in the Shua-Da-Ding acrobatics, the slender and long stalk "dragged" tightly by the hands of the population but seemingly not so assuredly, as described in Ji & Zhu's works, the naked stem without any leave, the missing of this important foil gives us a feeling of serious untruth. The pink flower appears collapsed. I still want to use the word "drag" to express the feeling afraid of gains and loss. The population dragging the flower stalks wants to ostentate and express themselves, however, they have to control due to the fear of out of control. In addition to the influence of gaudy art, we can also find the apparent effect of pop art: this is a large square matrix of copied men (a scale-up, organized population usually implies power). Four hundred miniature men about 30 cm high are all made from the same mold. Their hands, faces and feet are painted with propylene colors. The neck-ties of their business suit are also the same one pattern made of cloth.
A large number of copies and similarity must lead to the missing of individual personality. The formal business suit reflects their identity as social mainstream: the population seems move forward against wind. The highly held flowers sway like flying kites. Considering the persistent style of vagueness and multiple orientations about Ji & Zhu's works, we can read it from another perspective. The pink and high-stalk flowers also imply the lotus, which was planted as early as in the times of Zhou Dynasty in ancient China. Holding "them" high in the air is not only ostentatious, but also telling the world that this society is not fully rotten. We still keep our sanctity like a lotus unstained though growing out of the dirty mud. Surely, we are flaunting. Yes, we are protecting. The flowers are hope and our high ideal. Unlike Buddha picking up a flower to show it to folks, which is lifting the heavy as the light, while the Flower-dragging Parade (I coined this name improvisationally) presented by Ji & Zhu is apparently like raising the light as the heavy. I am thinking if the formal business suit is changed, will the relationship between the men and the flowers be more easy and harmonious? As always religious artists, are Ji Wen-Yu and Zhu Wei-Bing hiding any order that artists yearn for in the camp as demonstrated by the large number of copies?!
In this new works, Ji Wen-Yu and Zhu Wei-Bing maintain their previous simple, unadorned, and ambiguous style. I believe that in the field of experimental art, Ji & Zhu are absolutely exceptional ones among the artists using cloth as important material in creating artwork. If the trend of excessive symbolization during material transition can be avoided, I believe that "cloth", the material with heavy flavor of Chinese nature, must open a wide door for them. When first reading "Holy Bible", an elderly man told me: "Do not read only the words and sentences in the Holy Bible, it is important to feel and comprehend the concise content and principles of Holy Bible." Many Chinese people are not willing to understand Holy Bible. However, they like to comment presumptuously on selected quotes out of context. For those compatriots who do not really know contemporary Chinese art, or only know a few bloody, violent and pornographic "works", here, I specially hope that they can explore the essence of current art through these serious and earnest artists like Ji Wen-Yu and Zhu Wei-Bing.
By Luo Zi-Dan on June 18, 2007 in Chengdu "Grandmother's Kitchen"