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Memory City I #2 (2005) by SUN Ji

120 x 80 cm (size 1) Edition of 10, 180 x 120 cm (size II) Edition of 8

All these photos are about the familiar Shanghai in my memory. When I was still a child, these types of old factories and buildings were everywhere, alive and full of vigor. However, what I used to be so familiar with has literally disappeared in front of my eyes. Being ruthless is part of human nature and so is being nostalgic. While all kinds of old things are being destroyed boldly, we are irrepressibly reluctant to part with the past. I wonder whether architectural remains from past industrial times or whether life in the old lanes of Shanghai can be completely forgotten. But Memory City is about my personal memory of Shanghai, which is real yet also full of fantasy and becoming more faint by the day. After being resorted, reordered and recombined, those well-worn buildings in the photographs and my broken memories have been called back to life in an integral and centralized way, only to disappear again soon. These works are about the vanishing past and the ever-changing times, about the insubstantial mirage and also about conflicts. What I am trying to do is using Memory City to wave farewell to that period of my personal memory.

Memories are easy to be lost here in Shanghai. From the opening up as a trading port in 1843, to the period of the Republic, the War of Resistance, the Liberation and until the era of reform and opening-up, this city has been dropping pieces of memories all the way, forgetting about yesterday, forgetting about profound people and things. But this perhaps explains why this city is full of charms. Regardless of those splendid or dark days, everything is now gone, like clouds moving along. Shanghai forever belongs to the present moment and only today is served.

I don’t mean to call back those departed days nor feel obsessed with reminiscences and sentimentality. Still, upon seeing certain scenes, I smell the very taste of the elapsed times. It can be seen as the remembrance and honor to the past, to myself and to the city where I still live.

Whatever, only the black and white scenery remains while mountains and waters have passed by.


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