installation by Chen Xiaodan



Bones, Flowers, France

Accompanied by the couple of Yilan and Paul, we went to watch their Bazaar Compatible Program located between a vegetable market and a flower market. Being 3 meters in length, 3 meters in width and 2.5 meters in height, it was a booth among two rows of cheap shops, displaying a solo exhibition. Within the distance of 10 meters outside this space, ox bones were hanging inside a butcher's shop, and large lilies were being displayed for sale inside a flower shop. I sighed with emotion, as this was too common and daily, but also extremely peculiar and illusionary. When they asked whether I wanted to hold an exhibition here or not, I immediately consented to the proposal. I would just buy fresh ox's thigh bones and lilies from here and bind them together, and the key point is to hang them up on iron hooks from the butcher's shop, which was the appearance of ox bones that I had fallen in love with at the first sight. I have created works with bones for almost one decade, and created with flowers for two decades. This place could be regarded as the most appropriate spot for me to weirdly realize my dream.

The interesting thing is, sometimes my works of bones participating exhibitions would be rejected, as they say they want clean things. I couldn't understand at all, everybody savourily gnaws at bones, temples devoutly make offerings to Buddhist relics, everybody have bones inside his/her body, however, how could it turn to be something dirty in my case? Flowers are clean, but the cut flowers are actually a sort of corpses. I believe, soul makes corpse vivid, and spirit makes bones splendid.

When reviewing my predestined relationship with France, I would always remember those "old treasures" in that big trunk at home. My mother's elder brother, who graduated from Shanghai Fine Arts School in the 1930s, unfortunately died in the bacteria war launched by the Japanese invaders, and left a big trunk of imported professional materials about art behind. Having experienced war, flood, white ant and the Cultural Revolution, it survived up till now. Containing Nicolas Poussin, Eugène Delacroix, Maurice Utrillo and Henri Matisse, that trunk contains the joy and dream of my childhood. During my childhood, my favorites were illustrations and writings in French novels. Most of the translated foreign novels were French novels. Balzac, Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and the Bazaar Compatible Program, all these reveal the French humanistic concern about real life. For the first time, I exhibited works of huge bones in UwantArt, a French gallery in Shanghai, in the autumn of 2008; for the second time, I will exhibit fresh bones and flowers in the Bazaar Compatible Program for these two weeks; several months later, I will exhibit other works in Paris in the last quarter of 2012…

France, I will read you again,
France, please behold my bones and flowers.

Chen Xiaodan
Shanghai on March 8, 2012.