Spring and Autumn(2004-10) | Shao Yinong and Mu Chen

Reported by Nicholas.

Shao Yinong and Muchen, husband and wife, live and work in Beijing. Their work “Spring and Autumn” portraits the shifting political conditions, through a series of large-scale embroideries of obsolete currencies from different countries and periods. Their works reflect the cultural revolution in contemporary chinese society. The couple are well-known for their photographic series documenting photographs that illuminate the facets and functions of memory – a poignant portrait of the forces propelling China’s conservative agrarian society within a few decades into a global economic superpower. They documented a reflection upon the legacy of Cultural Revolution on Chinese Society and Culture.

Presented for the very first time at Singapore Biennale 2011, is their work on the pursuit of wealth, a series of twelve embroidered tapestries with out-of-date banknotes from different countries at different time periods. Their work includes the ideological shifts in political economies in china and around the world, depicting symbols of leaders, heroes and mythical figures. I saw the exploration of the centrality of money as a symbol of political power, something we are reminded of whenever we look at the important figures on a banknote. With the usage of the refined technique of traditional Suzhou embroidery, their works looked highly detailed and intricate yet delicate, with the prints on the tapestries, the works portrays very strong emotions to show the fragile nature of political and economic power, the usage of gold and black made their work look very solemn and powerful. The tapestries are arranged in such a way that they form like a “maze of curtains”, which attracted me have the desire to explore it deeper and deeper. The usage of tapestries also makes their work translucent, which emphasized on the fragility. They took notice of every single detail of their work, to the extent that they even have serial numbers for all of the tapestries. I am pretty amazed by the tapestries, especially when i observe them closely, i can see the emotions of the characters on the banknotes, as though they are real characters on the banknotes.

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