Someone said that History is cyclical. Qiu Zhijie, established artist on the international artistic scene, simply took this declaration “to the letter” in his series Monument. In this series of works, exhibited all around the world, which began back in 1994, Qiu shows prints on paper and concrete cubes. Apparently interpretable as minimalist sculptures, but far from being such artifacts for their conceptual content given by their long processing.
For the work titled Revolutionary slogan of the Successive Dynasties, the artist makes a search for some of the most important Chinese slogans. Not only the famous slogans that belonged to the Cultural Revolution, but also many revolutions that animated the country, starting (the first print on the top left) by the uprising against the emperor in the far 300 BC. Each slogan is chiseled on a concrete element that then acts as a printing matrix. Each sentence is then printed on a piece of rice paper of various sizes (60 × 60-80 × 80 cm). After embossing the bar, the mold is covered with other cement. Then engraved with the next slogan and so on for sixteen times until the impression of contemporary slogans arrives. The slogans are presented consecutively and the final result of the work on each mold presented in front of these. The concrete cube does not reveal any writing, but the ink stains on the edges remind us of the historical and social content hidden within it.
The work therefore focuses on the idea of revolution that is perceived in every historical period of transition. On how at each extreme change of a social status quo we had associated an aphorism that seems to fully represent this alteration. The innovation is represented visually in an exemplary way also by the change of the characters that from the ancient seal writing of the imperial era passes to the famous simplified characters, still used in the Mainland.
Besides it’s a work about Time. That Time unit, impossible to calculate or the feel, that finds itself between a change and another. Between a revolution that gives life to change so much coveted, to the next that finally destroys the dream that has become nightmare. It makes a memory “concretely” illegible. This is how we find ourselves faced with this irregular gray cube: when will we add the next layer?