Magician Space will present a special program “Remaining Images” by Wang Bing, from April 18 to May 8. In 2017, 51 photos of Remaining Images were exhibited as the visual image section of Documenta 14.
This collection includes 102 photos in both black-and-white and color, which were taken by Wang Bing at Tiexi District, Shenyang City, Liao Ning Province, China, from 1994 to 2001. This collection represents some sort of memory preserved by individuals, it does not belong to society nor the general history. It’s not a kind of elaboration from the perspective of society, but the individuals’ remaining memory that accumulated gradually through the images.
Plenty of photographs that I took during the shooting of my early documentaries have been lost in years of constant migration and life-shifting, which makes it impossible for me to sort out a more sophisticated photo album.
Tracing back to the hundred more years history of the photo, it seems to be more as the record of unpremeditated instants in life and particular rituals of individuals, which rooted in the relations between visual images and most people. These fractured photos provide lingering memory as individuals’ time goes by – perplexity, happiness, and sorrow will never once more in the images, but the sensible possibility of revisiting the life will be granted to us. Human memory is always fragmentary, with abstract transcend time and space. But it has been relatively concreteness and accessible since photos come to our life.
“Preciousness” is resulted from the lost and the impossible reshaping. Therefore, personal photo album/collection is the most precious accompaniment for everyone in a past life. There are moments that people would be immersed in their photographs, to appreciate the ineffable perplexities. I shot many children and elders at factories and surrounding living quarters of Tie Xi Qu (Tiexi District). Many years after, the children are middle-aged and the elders are passed away. Their homes are demolished to new blocks, yet their faces remain unchanged. Photos I took of them remind me of my confusion and lingers towards art as well as my personal life back to those days.
The birth of the photo affords a symbol of documented information paralleling with the word. A photo could be serviced for art, but its nature of documentation above all others. It can be used to express the conceptual meanings, as well as approaching to convey personal emotion. Nevertheless, it has been always engaged with the information which is documented and transmitted in the broader context of social and personal life. Since the digital photograph has come to the life of most people, photo embodies its function as a symbol of documentation in our everyday life, its essence of documentation is more and more efficient. Consequently, we could no longer live without photos – this kind of symbol of documentation.
April 15, 2020
Wang Bing in "China⇋Africa: Crossing the World Color Line" at Centre Pompidou, France