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A Boat Almost Waking

Yet I Cannot Tarry Longer


Yet I Cannot Tarry Longer - Qu Yuan 12 Suspected Graves Project by Tang Nannan

My friendship with the poet Fang Nan began in middle school when he was my deskmate. We made fun with each other in high school and became drinking buddies after we grow up. In addition to making jokes and tease each other, we occasionally discuss our respective creations. I like to paint and he likes to write poetry quietly. We all are enchanted by what we like, and we all feel puzzled, confused and unconfident. Once after a drink, he said that the two of us are kind of two fishes spitting at each other. I felt uncomfortable for a while about what he said. But later he explained that fish cannot live without water even the water is composed of saliva. Then he looked at the tide and foam that gradually came up from the sea and said to me: "Actually we should cooperate. You can draw, and I can write poetry."


On Chinese New Year's Eve in 2008, Fang Nan died suddenly in a car accident. I found a document in my computer with nearly 60 poems, 24 articles and short sentences, which must have been written by him while he was living in my house. I spent a long time to read them and fell into a deep silence. Somehow I thought that he has entrusted me with some unfinished things - although we never talked about what can be entrusted to each other. I understand him as he understands me, so I had a mission. Meanwhile, I felt that he left some of his talents to me.

During the summer vacation of 2013, I traveled to the western Sichuan Plateau and was trapped in a guest house in Dunbar by mudslides. Tibetan girl Shenrab Yungdron took me to a remote valley called "Mosca" where she practiced as a child. Surrounded by the snow mountains, "Mosca" is a basin where the grasslands are full of flowers, the marmots look around, the local men still use the knife to resolve the dispute, and the local women use gold to decorate their teeth. Under the snowy mountains, I saw a deep, clear stream flowing through the valley, and countless abandoned living goods were on the bottom of the water. Like a fish in the water, a brave boy waded through the water under his feet. At that moment, it reminded me of the scene when Fang Nan and I played together in Zhangjiang River when we were children.


So, 7 years later after Fang Nan left, I started creating Flowing Water of Mosca which is a work spliced 100 pieces of underwater objects into a vast ocean. When the work was completed, I reread the poems that he left for me and I suddenly realized that he had already completed that part of his work but he was just waiting for me to approach him! Now that the work is completed, and the boy I photographed is the only life in the 100 sunken objects.


Time does not only pass like water, but also condense to vapor which partly disappears into the air and the rest is left in the riverbed and frozen by the flowing water that melts from the ancient snow, ever young and never decayed. 

Ten years later, Fang Nan’s poetry is a key making me feel the necessity to take poetry as a lifelong study. Through this project, by tracing back Qu Yuan, I hope to capture the shadow of a person who is born as human, always independent, and dares to question the lord.

Work Description 

Note Wall


Ink, sketches, manuscripts, magnets, felts, stamps, envelopes, old photos, albums

Size variable


This is a messy note wall with some sketches, notes and memos and I start my work from there. It’s on the left side of my studio desk so that I could do graffiti and post easily. Of course, this is an ever-updating wall, just like the poet's face.

For many years, I have been wondered why the poets always touch upon the soul when they question the world but end their life early. The wall now displayed is a failure case for me to explore the poet's secrets. However, behind the mess, some soft feelings and endless fantasies are preserved. Some of my random ideas will develop into the important works, but some will die as early as the poets. This is not only a reading note but a private place to communicate with poetry.

Grass Green, Grass Yellow

Color video on two screens, two-channel surround 



After Qu Yuan committed suicide by throwing himself into the river while holding a rock, the local people made twelve suspicious graves for him to protect his body. Today, surrounded by the thickly weeds and trees, the mysterious graves are scattered in the wilderness on the banks of the Miluo River where the cars pass through occasionally.

One day, two idlers came here by chance. The twelve graves suddenly trembled like a heart, pulsating one after another. There, the grass was gently swaying in the wind, the birds were singing, and the never faded flowers were blooming.

In winter, the two idlers passed by the graves again. The flowers there were still in full bloom, but the grass turned yellow. The mountains were deserted, and the wind was howling.

After a few more years, the two idlers revisited the place because they missed the grass. They found that the grass was still green and the birds were still hovering in the sky. Those flowers have been plasticized, becoming the unbeatable flowers that unable to be digested by the wilderness.

There are Seven Breezes Blowing

Color video on two screens, mono surround



Fang Nan wrote in the poem: "Suddenly the water surface is gently shaking, as if the mind is somehow absenting." The mind is like the dense jungle, the mountain ghost, the floating air, the darting motes, and the living things blowing their breaths among them. 

The 36 Chapters of Twin-Lens' Man

Color/ black and white film photography

36 pieces of long scroll

Size variable


The 36 Chapters of Twin-Lens' Man began with the imagination of beautiful flowers, rivers, forests, ghosts and witches in Songs of Chu. The whole filming experience has slowly become a journey approaching the Sorcery culture and Chu culture, which is not only an invisible way to enter the spiritual consciousness of the pre-Qin and even the ancient times, but also the way to connect the ancient ocean of darkness and chaos, and the world of fantasy, gods and spirits. In this lost road that is closed and open at any time, the vine shrubs and tall trees are rushing to appear and disappear.

“Twin-Lens Man” refers to Emperor Shun because he has double pupils in each eye. His two pupils are like early two-lens cameras which have a different purpose of viewing when facing the same scene. This series of work is the result of multi-angle and repeated viewing of the same scene. When this diverse viewing experience is presented on the same plane, it becomes the traditional Chinese long scroll.

Like a Rolling Stone


Porcelain heads from the Song Dynasty, simulated planets, bird eggs, green eggs

Size variable


In May, Zhang Gezhan and I traveled southwest of China by car. We went to Loudi, Tongdao, Fenghuang, Chadong and Anhua. At the border of Yunnan, Guizhou and Hunan provinces, we saw three bald old people arguing about the origin of “dragon boat race”. We were touched and decided to head north to Miluo for finding the relics of Qu Yuan and tracing the past.

In June, at Qingshuitang in Changsha, we met the young antique dealer Yanyang Gaozhao. Then, we saw three pieces of porcelain head from the Song Dynasty. They looked exquisite, serene and thoughtful, which were unforgettable.

In July, when finding the Qu Yuan’s 12 suspicious graves, a partridge was startled up from the grass and then we found a nest of bird eggs and a blue cap of mineral water bottle in the grass. Two hours later, we found a 40mm stone near the Miluo River and then we wrote "怀石 2018" on it.

In August, I read the history of Chu in Guanshan, Hangzhou, and found that many people especially the top officials in Chu have committed suicide for the country, such as Qu Xia, Zi Yu, Zi Xi, Zi Nang, Zi Fan, Sima Yuanyue, Shen Yirong, Xiang Yan. A few years later, Xiang Yu, a native of Chu, committed suicide in Wujiang River. After 2,149 years, in Chadong, Fenghuang, the father of Cuicui committed suicide. A few years later, the famous anti-Japanese general Zuo Quan, Li Bifan and Xiao Shanling committed suicide for the country.

In September, when I was traveling in West Lake with my family, my 90-year-old father made a couplet, and the 3-year-old nephew Tang Zeng forgot a set of simulated solar planets in my studio.

In October, I led a team to Shanxi to conduct the cultural relics investigation. I met Zhou Quan, a young scholar and collector who took me through the Chu Bamboo Slips of the Han and Three Kingdoms Period and helped me to borrow 11 pieces of porcelain head from the Song Dynasty.

In November, He Jiankui, an associate professor at Southern University of Science and Technology, announced that a pair of genetically edited infants named Lulu and Nana were born in China. Hundreds of scientists strongly condemned it and denied that they were related to the matter. The National Health Commission requested to conduct an investigation into the incident.


Color video on single screen, stereo surround



The west of the Northern Sea, and the land of the poet Qu, is the home to the Bird of Wonder, whose name is Phonixalis. Its shape mimics a kingfisher, with the tiger-marked feathers. It blows like a bubbling spring, feeds on wind and sips from dew. It dances when the sun rises, weeps in the sight of knowledge. Once stumbling upon humanity, it drowns into the sea, leaving the earth in a chaotic state.

Phonixalis is an aggrieved bird in Classic of Mountains and Seas. In this work, the dissolved words, the struggling birds, the falling planes, the suddenly appeared big hands, etc., together show a kind of chaos that is intertwined with various forces such as struggling, sinking and flying, responding to the destiny with an unyielding attitude to life. Every struggling being owns an unfettered life.

December 2018

The 57th International Art Exhibition-La Biennale di Venezia·PAVILION OF CHINA

The theme of the China Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale, Continuum-Generation by Generation, is based on the Chinese concept of buxi (不息). Literally meaning 'ceaselessly' and 'unrelentingly,‘ buxi also Implies unbroken energetic transmission; and a generative life force that survives through resilience and adaptability to the vicissitudes of history and fate. These vitues have been a core aspect of Chinese civilizational ontology since ancient times. In the ’Great commentary' (Dayi) section or the classic Chinese text of divinatlon, the Book of Changes (Yijing), lt states: ‘life and growth: this is the meaning of transformation and change (shenghshengzhi wei yi); and ‘The movement of the Heavens ls constant and full of power; thus the enlightened one strengthens and exerts himself ceaselessly and tirelessly (tian xing jian, junzi yi ziqiang buxi).The formal Chinese title of this exhibition, rendered in elegant calligraphy, is in fact, simply the term buxi, and In order to illustrate the concept of cultural Iineage passmg through the generations, each of these two characters is written in a different hand:the character bu is in the hand of the great fourth-century calligrapher Wang Xizhi(303-361),while the second character,xi,is the calligraphy of his son,Wang Xianzhi(344-386).

Non - image, narrative movement

The "Non-image-Narrative Movement" exhibition, organized and hosted by the Shanghai 21st Century Minsheng Art Museum (M21), opened at M21 on November 20th. "Non-image" presents more than 70 pieces of Chinese art and more than 70 pieces of painting, video and photography for more than 30 years, including the success of the artist's early years, including the artist specifically for this exhibition creation of new work.

The exhibition in the performance of the content, "non-image" proposition of the image of the authenticity and typical of the questioned, the collapse of the people's understanding of the theme of the image. In the creative means, the artist relies more on the existing vocabulary to describe his feelings of life and the observation of the times, Wang Gongxin "smoke in the camellia" depicts the cruelty of the Sino-Vietnamese war warmth. Xu Feng, Meng Luodin, Gu Liming In the 1980s, the works of "fission", "Yuan", "cross" and so on not only in the visual and artistic expression of the language of the abstract painting exploration, painting materials, etc. also actively carried out Various experiments, tea, Xuan paper, herbs and other materials are painting, the breadth of painting to further increase. Painting, the exhibition also presents a number of video works. After the emergence of new media art, it was used to rebel the established art logic. New technology has brought new creative means, but the art creation has not abandoned the "image" of the discussion. Zhang Peili "focal length", "last words", "joy" are our daily life of the established understanding of the collapse. Li Yongbin video art masterpiece "face" series from the performance of their own image, to explore the limitations of self-examination under the conditions and the form.

The deconstruction of the traditional narrative model of the "non-image" exhibition breaks our image in our minds, trying to further open the imagination and think space. Artistic creation breaks through many borders and presents the openness of the development of art and other disciplines. The exhibition also selected some of the mysterious experience, "non-scientific" works, imagine the knowledge of the border "image" of the wandering. Such as Zheng Guogu "brain line" completed from the symbol to learn the change of energy, Tang Nannan's "cast waves for the mountain" will be the integration of geography and life, the twinkling of an eternal, thin and small.

The 21st century Minsheng Art Museum Tang Nannan works exhibition site

The 21st century Minsheng Art Museum Tang Nannan works exhibition site

The fourth year of the M.T. Youth Film Season in 2013

The current film season will show the latest art films at home and abroad, experimental films, video art, documentaries, etc., and held a special exhibition exchange activities, since 2012 China's new image art for a comprehensive introduction and academic summary.

Tang Nannan video works "home Phoenix" as the opening film show, unique artistic expression to the audience audio and video to bring multiple tremors.

The Opening Ceremony of the 4th Annual Opening Ceremony of M.T. Youth Film

The Opening Ceremony of the 4th Annual Opening Ceremony of M.T. Youth Film

The Opening Ceremony of the 4th Annual Opening Ceremony of M.T. Youth Film

The 9th Shanghai Biennale 2012

2012 Shanghai Biennale Tang Nannan works "flow source" exhibition site

2012 Shanghai Biennale Tang Nannan works "flow source" exhibition site

2012 Shanghai Biennale Tang Nannan works "flow source" exhibition site

2012 Shanghai Biennale Tang Nannan works "flow source" exhibition site

2012 Shanghai Biennale Tang Nannan works "flow source" exhibition site