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The Temptation of the Land
2009
Three-channel video installation (black and white, sound)
Dimensions: 13' 24" Variable dimensions
Reference: ACF0120
Edition: 2/10
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In this video, QiuAnxiong takes us on a journey over the last one hundred years in China’s remarkable history. Taking his inspiration from historic visual sources, the artist composes a fantastic narrative formed by a series of drawings that resembling classical Chinese ink painting. Temptation of the Landopens with a close-up shot of the ruins of the Summer Palace near Beijing, almost completely destroyed by the British and French allies during the Second Opium War. Next, we see a portrait of the last emperor and his family, whose flight marked the end of the ancient Qing dynasty. There now follows a rapid succession of historic events. The first Chinese Republic in 1911 leads to a period of civil war, then the traumatic Japanese occupation and Mao Zedong’s communist regime. Countless metallic objects disappear spinning into lighted chimneys symbolise the domestic crucibles that were built in accordance with economic and social measures established during the Great Leap Forward. Decreed by the Government of the People’s Republic in the 1950s, the consequences unleashed as a result of this policy included, amongst others, a great famine. The curtain closes and, with an image of Chairman Mao waving goodbye, another age reaches its end. China’s rising economic power in recent years is represented by soaring skyscrapers and spreading industrialisation. Objects dancing before the Olympic Stadium, designed by Herzog and de Meuron, including mobile phones, cameras and other consumer goods, illustrate the measure to which society’s new demands have been met. The final image, a lonely house standing in a crater, surrounded by menacing skyscrapers, offers hope and reconciliation. A stubborn couple successfully stands up against the whims of the powers that be, symbolising the defence of civil rights. Masterfully, QiuAnxiong illustrates China’s great efforts to modernise the country whilst also warning about the danger of forgetting traditions, values and moral standards, and of losing the authentic Chinese identity. Each scene is painted in acrylic paint on canvas, and operates as a single still shot. The changes in scene and the subtle changes in the motifs are achieved by the constant deletion and addition of detail. The film is produced from these painted images in a process that involved countless hours in the postproduction studio.

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