Wall of wishes

Wall of wishes

Installazione, Memoria, Simbolo / Lettera, Ritratto, Politico/Sociale, Video installazione, 400x500x1000cm
I was a resident artist at the Chinese European Art Centre, Xiamen in autumn 2006. In
the resulting exhibition entitled ‘The Great Wall’, I presented myself as: Fu Yang, a
pseudo-Chinese identity.

A cascade of symbol-laden blueprint silk hangings drops from different heights, creating
volume and depth. The multi-layered transparent silk has been contact printed from
photographs of a little Chinese magic fairy in white mask set against a background of
words in several languages. The lightweight silk moves in the light breeze, constantly
changing in front of viewers like a shifting collage. Basic Chinese characters are
sometimes the background text, which look ornamental rather than meaningful at first
sight, but leave you space to think, to imagine and to wonder.

At the Xiamen exhibition there were over fifty blue monochromic portraits forming a long
line and stretching across the other exhibition walls. Some portraits were like ID cards,
some were close ups devoid of any background. Chinese and foreign, young and old, healthy
and handicapped, office worker and street cleaner, the newly-weds and the dying, they
were all found in the city of Xiamen. On one side of the canvas boards were the wishes of
these individuals. The wishes were in the same language as the individual’s nationality
(Chinese, Russian, Icelandic, Serbian). Ordinary wishes such as “Let my happy days be
longer” and “I want to have an interesting job” were revealed; “I want a Porche but can
only afford a Benz” in contrasts with “How I wish to have two legs and two hands.”

The same wishes and portraits were projected simultaneously onto white silk gossamer,
hanging and cascading from the ceiling in different layers. Wishes silently floating and
flying past the wrinkles, expectant eyes, silent mouths and time-weathered faces of

As audience walked past, into and through the gossamer, the work shifted and one discovered
more layers, secrets and coincidences in the forever alternating space rather than a
fixed structure. When audience walked around, their shadows were cast onto the silk,
making the space more transient and hard to capture just like a dream. Thus the viewer’s
experience of the work was unavoidably dreamy, mystical and 3D cinematic.

There comes the necessity to capture and keep the transient life momentarily on the silk
wish wall. The silk wall is my contingency measure, a place where wishes are suspended
until they are realized if the symbolic fairy is unable to realize them.

In front of portraits hung three white silk curtains with small burnt holes in irregular
sizes. Visitors of the exhibition were invited to choose a white, red or black card to
write their wishes on. Each colour represented a different set of emotions. The visitors
placed their wish cards into the holes in the silk curtains thus finding a small outlet
to express themselves. The silk wish wall may remind of a Buddhist wish tree. The act of
placing the wish notes into the holes resembles lodging prayer notes into the cracks of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

As a part of the project, I scan the notes and put them onto my web art project: www.wailingwall.no. As the exhibition travels to Italy, Holland, New York, Norway and other places, more portraits and new wishes will be added to both the exhibition and the website.

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