The Liu Li Tun Moment
Source:Artintern Author:Wu Hung Date: 2007-09-27 Size:
The present compilation might be called a continuation of RongRong’s East Village. after the East Village artist community was disbanded, RongRong moved to the nearby village of Liu Li Tun in 1995. We see how RongRong’s lens and life gradually evolve, and how Beijing’s merciless expansionkeeps on turning.

 

 Rong Rong's work, Courtesy of Three shadows Photography Art Centre

The present compilation might be called a continuation of RongRong’s East Village. after the East Village artist community was disbanded, RongRong moved to the nearby village of Liu Li Tun in 1995. We see how RongRong’s lens and life gradually evolve, and how Beijing’s merciless expansionkeeps on turning. At the dawn of the century, a Japanese woman who speaks with her eyes entered into this strange, small courtyard; she is inri. From this point on, she and RongRong and Liu Li Tun find meaning only in their soundless dialogue. Two years later, the wheel of destruction encroached, finally crushing Liu Li Tun. When their familiar courtyard was turned into a pile of bricks, RongRong and inri held a lonely funeral atop the ruins, holding fresh white flowers in their hands.

I first met RongRong in Liu Li Tun.The cab I hired suddenly stopped in the middle of the road, The road ended under my feet, the pavement stopped, in front of me only bright green cropland. For just an instant, I forgot where I was: There are no roads to nowhere. I felt as if in a dream I had wandered to the edge of the world, where going one step forward would mean falling off a cliff. I mumbled to myself, “Liu Li Tun, the end of Beijing, the end of the world.”

As soon as I saw RongRong’s work, I immediately realized that for him, the quiet, laziness, and exhaustion of Liu Li Tun were full of crisis. Yet like the eye of a storm, the tranquility at the heart of this crisis had made the artist’s nerves all the more sensitive, observing every drop of the present amidst this anxious state of waiting, listening in silence to the clamor moving in from afar. Thus this feeling of timelessness, this state of meaninglessness—the humble homes and faded latticework, the eaves and their shadows, the chirping noontime cicadas—was endowed with a biting sense of time, a special significance.

These works represent the beginning of RongRong’s “Liu Li Tun Moment.” They are photos about the fate of buildings like the then still-undemolished one in which he lived, and about the fundamental fragility of the image itself. Unlike the active, collective feeling of the “East Village Moment,” this “Liu Li Tun Moment” marks the birth of an independent artist. For RongRong, this independence is reflected in meditations about death, tragedy, and limitation.

Although at times one could still feel the echoes of the earlier East Village, the atmosphere of that courtyard grew ever more tranquil and closed. It had become the living and working space of a professional artist, filled with the secrets and ambiguities of a private life.

“Ruins” remained a theme in RongRong’s photography, the girl was an abstract symbol, a ghost-like form existing only in the photographed image. This form became real only at the moment when inri appeared. The melancholy that came before, the hesitation amidst the ruins—all were RongRong’s expectation.

These works inri produced while living in Liu Li Tun are innumerable fragments of daily life and piecemeal emotion, presented openly for the first time. These f images have not been cut or edited. There is no single space or sequential narrative; the only constant is the eye behind the camera, that of inri, curiously observing the extent of her surroundings, and focusing mostly on RongRong, his eyes, his camera. I can understand why inri has not made these proofs into individual artworks, placing them into exquisite frames: these fragments are just her life, a part of her life she had never before experienced and will never again experience.

When their courtyard was razed to the ground along with all of Liu Li Tun in 2002, RongRong and inri held a funeral for this place and a farewell to the “Liu Li Tun Moment” of their own lives. This moment began when RongRong discovered “ruins” and ended with his encounter and union with inri. Once Liu Li Tun had disappeared, they left this place that would never again exist, moving into a world without end.

[Editor] Zhang Shuo

    Artintern