My 14 Days of Quarantine
The sudden outbreak of the epidemic had made this Spring Festival holiday longer and longer. After the Lantern Festival, I took the whole family and drove 600 kilometers — from my hometown in the northeast — back to Beijing. Then my 14-day quarantine period officially began. Everyday after I woke up, the first thing I did was to pick up my phone and browse the news and my social media timeline. They were full of various opinions, including criticisms, compliments, and tabloid news, from pro-America, pro-Japan, to anti-Russia and anti-China — clash of different ideologies. But besides these news, I had to find something to do, otherwise it would be way too boring. I originally wanted to conceive the work that was left unfinished before the Chinese New Year. But my thoughts were too much affected by the epidemic and I couldn't think of anything else. So I simply decided to make some works related to the epidemic.
These works are not so-called anti-epidemic works. At best, they are my psychological journey throughout the epidemic. One piece a day, including paintings, sculptures and installations. Conditions at home are very limited, and I have no professional tools and materials here, so I just used things that I can find at hand, including children’s paint brushes and toys, and packaging boxes from my wife’s online shopping. I had heard that home isn’t the ideal place to make work — now I really get it. Three adults and two children are extremely noisy during the day, and my availability was intermittent. Now I really miss the quiet atmosphere of the studio.
In fact, this pandemic has exposed many problems, and sometimes it’s difficult to witness those things. I am glad that it’s not a war, otherwise there’d be even more sacrifice. There are too many things to be reflected upon after the pandemic. No just Hubei, it might as well be the same outcome if the pandemic had started elsewhere — maybe they even wouldn’t have handled it as well. Particularly when Doctor Li Wenliang passed away, the internet was filled with “negativity”. The whole nation was in anger. Li is a very representative figure and I think he will still be remembered by the people after a very long time. Because he is exactly like you and me, just an ordinary person. Hence most of the work I made is about him.
Although art cannot directly preserve the pandemic, it can sometimes protest. Spring will come, but let’s not forget how cold this winter has been! I hope there will be some memories and warnings for us to keep.
Translated by Dot Jia