• Zora Pang

The story of people and land

Updated: Feb 13, 2019


Zora (Linyi) Pang, Book of 人 (ren,person); Book of 土 (tu,land), 2018

In 2018 exhibition Balawan: The story continues at ANU School of Art & Design Foyer Gallery. 10th-19th, Oct.


What is it about?

Books, are about recording, about stories, histories, and anticipation. We are writing these together - the stories of each of us and the story of our land. Our interaction with the sand is a metaphor of us living on our land. We all lived once, with incredible efforts, then disappeared; our marks distroyed and forgotten.


This work was inspired by my Balawan experience of being on a foreign land, warmly embraced by its generous people, culture and nature. This journey taught me about how to patiently care for our relationships with one another and with nature while bearing with differences and continuous negotiation. It is about understanding our fate. It is a bit of an existentialist position (?).

https://www.zorapang.com/writings-on-art-blog/on-reconciliation-the-bundian-way-reflective-notes


This work is not a report or an end result. It is a continuous conversation, and will be a continuous influence to my choices, my attitudes, my life. This first version contains all of me - my experiences, cultures, beliefs and confusions. I am looking forward to see its later versions.


Why Chinese characters?

Firstly, it is about my identity. During my creativity bottleneck, I was emotionally vulnerable and felt like writing some Chinese, so I can be spiritually back at home. Naturally, I turned the watercolour landscape into Chinese characters. Then, I started to move away from using pictographic characters when relating it to the landscape, to go against my conscious activity and to only read the shape of characters from the natural lines in the landscape. Finally, I went further to create a trans-cultural symbol where the meaning of characters went beyond the original meaning under a language system and returned the signified meaning to its environmental context – an empty and free symbol (the signifier). This thinking process laid the foundation of my final work.


The character person (人) in my work was extracted from the mountain range, while the land (土) was extracted from a shape I made with the dry leaves under an 1000-year-old tree. The pictorial meaning has been reversed - 人 became the land and 土 became something artificial. The characters' original meaning in the language remained, but by extracting the characters from the Balawan landscape, the meaning became liminal (beyond its original connotation). The emotion or meaning for me in writing it done is different from experienced by someone of other language backgrounds. None of us would understand the characters fully with its original and extended meanings, however, within the context of Balawan stories, we will be able to achieve the same connotation regardless of the familiarity to its signifier - opposite to our belief that it is very hard to make a difference, we are always changing our human history, our land and nature. The continuous and collaborative effort is the core in the shaping of our story.

https://www.zorapang.com/writings-on-art-blog/trans-cultural-identities-through-words-characters

2018 exhibition Balawan: The story continues at ANU School of Art & Design Foyer Gallery. 10th-19th, Oct.

今天是我人生第一次真正公开展览。谢谢所有的人。谢谢食物。看到大家都战战兢兢仍能打破常规去用双手触碰我的作品,任由泥沙和水在展台上,非常感动。这不是一个大不了的物件,不归谁所有,也没有价格。它只是一个谈话的起点,一个当下的停靠。

最后一张照片,是一位坐着轮椅独来独往的老妇人,靠着身体左侧贴近展台,仔细地读了展台上指引观众如何与我的两本大书互动的文字。我在一旁观察着。她独自一人,很认真地、很费劲地用右手去够着一千岁的老树下捡的树枝,左手憋屈地翻开书,攀扶着轮椅抬起右侧的身体去在书中写下了人和土两个符号,写下她的存在于这个土地的过去,也写下她消失的未来,写下命运。她身上寂静和专注的气息让我感到她真的进入那个作品的世界里了。随后她又一页页仔细地翻看了一旁的文字写生笔记本。

Audience interacting with the books. 11th Oct 2018.

我很感动,走上前靠近她说谢谢她,告诉她这是我做的。她说话不清楚,每个词都在颤抖,可我凑近她,听见她说:"...这个里面有很多的智慧...非常好...你会走的很远。"他人说出来是恭维或鼓励的话,从她口中说出来,却仿佛是一句魔咒。我吻了她的脸颊,看着她离开人群远去了。

知音难觅的意义我也稍许领悟。

就像徐冰说的,一个好的作品里面你可以看到这个作者的一切; 我的经历,思想,身份,生活状态,也包括当下这个我尚未解开的困惑,甚至尚未发掘的困惑,都在其中。因此,也对未来,对这个作品会交给我什么,把我引向何处,满怀期待。


12th, Oct


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Reading Notes, 14th Feb, 2019


"Stuart Hall argues that there are two kinds of identity: identity in being (which offers a sense of unity and commonality) and identity as becoming (or a process of identification, which shows the discontinuity in our identity formation). Identity is important, but it is a process of "imaginative rediscovery": he argues against the idea of identity as true or essential, emphasizing instead the ways in which cultural identities are subject to the continuous "play" of history, culture, and power. For Hall, identities of race or gender are not an unchanging essence, but a positioning, unstable points of suture within the discourses of history and culture."


(Anne D'alleva, Methods & Theories of Art History, 2nd, p76)


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