– To the victims of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake
In the beginning, this wasn’t what I’d wanted to write on the bricks of the earthquake rubble. I was going to write was “it was our own homes that crushed us to death”.
My ancestral home is in Sichuan, and we still have a lot of relatives living in Mianyang a place that was hit hard by the earthquake. In that rough summer last year, I, just like many Chinese people, spent my days and nights in front of the TV, waiting for every bit of news from my hometown. I was shocked to discover that what had destroyed so many lives and homes was none other than the bricks and tiles we usually use to create a sense of safety.
When I saw the soldiers pulling children’s bodies out of the rubble of those shoddily built schools, I froze in front of the TV. At that moment, a deep feeling of dread closed in around me – the killer was their homes, their schools, the places they thought provided the most safety. I, who had been making art with bricks for the past three years, suddenly realized that there is truly nothing in this world that is completely reliable. Bricks cannot necessarily be used to build protection.
This heavy statement weighed on my heart for many months until that one night when I dropped all of my work and went out dancing with my friends, dancing until dawn. Standing there on the street as the first rays of dawn crept in, I took a deep breath, and Hai Zi’s poem rushed over me: Facing the sea, flowers blossoming in spring! The tears flowed out of my eyes. That’s it, that’s the sentence! That poetic verse is what should be towering over the rubble! Faced with all of life’s suffering, what else can we do but look up to the sky and grin? I thought about Hai Zi’s death, and about a lot of other people’s deaths. I thought, with such a verse, Death would have no other choice.
Facing the sea, with Flowers Blossoming in Spring;
by Hai Zi
I will be a happy person
feeding horses, chopping firewood and wandering the world
I will pay attention to grains and vegetables
I have a house that faces the sea where flowers blossom in spring
I will contact all of my loved ones
to tell them about my happiness
What that spark of happiness told me
I will tell to everyone
I will give a warm name to every river and mountain
Stranger, I wish you happiness too
May you have a bright future
May your lover become your family
May you find happiness in this world
I just want to face the sea, with flowers blossoming in spring
Installation in situ
Ruins of inhabited areas. On the wall, the Chinese title is made of bricks