Remembering the Strange Self and Non-self
Source:Artintern Author:Ai Weiwei Date: 2008-08-27 Size:
This is a part of RongRong and inri’s photographic work created during eight years between 1994 and 2002.


RongRong Works, East Village Series

This is a part of RongRong and inri’s photographic work created during eight years between 1994 and 2002. These photographs recorded the little courtyard they had both lived at Chaoyang district, filled with the moments of their life, activity, parties, cats, sex and the ruin which had left during and after the courtyard had been removed from the cityscape.

Most of the black and white photos were taken by RongRong, who actually had few sense of color, in RongRong’s two-dimensional world, black and white is a manifestation of the outside world and the only possible relation with the world, or perhaps a dialogue. Monochrome formed the basic structure of his works while inri’s world is full of colors.

Photography appears to be the most unreliable media of all, so intimate to life yet far away from it. It forces us to believe, tempts us to re-envision and create a world that does not exist, it seems to be the truest with those what we call a perspective vision and reasonable logic of its own, telling us what the world is like now and what it was like in moments past, we are all willingly to believe that our memories require evidence, and this piece of evidence shows us the path or even an obstacle to our further action.

In their works of this period, RongRong and inri were most concerned with their own lives in every tiny detail, even if nothing was happening. Life was just like this and days just went by. In this period, their photography entered a special status as they began to pay more attention to the shooting process itself. A brand new world evolved, like an inexhaustible spring of a introspective inner self, likewise, things went without cause or goal, they just happen suddenly, unobstructed, chaotically, along with many stories and vague emotions. From the ambiguity of life to the inside world of oneself, pacing around the walls of this small courtyard, behind a closed wooden door, in a place that no one knows.

One can always enter one’s own territory visiting the soul, as the soul is a greater desolation. Self-exile is among the most common vistas in life, and it is known the most familiar way to violence, the most direct result of the circumstance.

Ruins show eclipsed orders that once flourished. Eternal ruins are pieces of deserted land without life, and all possibilities vanish there. It is a desert that has lost all their credit and goodwill, with no hope and expectation, it is seeking to be forgotten and prove the violence that once transpired upon them. We live in an age of the deserted ruins, we carry on the ceremony of the ruins, we point our fingers at it and say: we are a hell a part of it. These ruins had long existed even before we had the conscious of being ourselves, our existence only proves their eternity and power.


Ruins as uncultivated ground, prove that there exists a savage power contrary to civilization, prove the undeniable truth of death, prove the huge dark shadows and the unlimited possibility of large-scale destruction.

It is an age where our greatest diligence goes into camouflaging reality, an age that gradually fades from our personal files, from the details of our existence, from our most vague emotions. Like snow melting in the sunlight, they can only be dim and shadowy memories, and they will be replaced by vivid lives along with their daily joys and irritations.

RongRong was born in a village outside Quanzhou, Fujian province, in 1968. His real name is Lu Zhirong.

Inri’s full name is Inri Suzki. She and RongRong got together in 2000. She has a calm, elegant, naïve energy, her eyes have a clear and tough glitter. This is a contrast to RongRong’s effeminate, bashful introversion. The aura of a Japanese female like her is rarely seen in China.

Dami, which means "Big Kitty," is their cat. What I can recall is that she actually given birth to nearly 80 kittens, even after she was spayed, she also managed mysteriously gave birth to another. In a way, cats prove the stupidity and impotence of humans. Everyone worships Dami and talks of her, she has witnessed everything that has happened to RongRong in these years, remembers the courtyard where RongRong lived for eight years, its demolition, and RongRong’s new home. But how she sees all of this will always remain a mystery.

[Editor] Mark Lee