3 Encounters, 7 Buildings, and 2500 Grains of Rice
The starting point for 3 Encounters, 7 Buildings, and 2500 Grains of Rice was a particularly awful dining experience at a Chinese restaurant in London. The food wasn’t bad but the service was horrible. The interesting thing was that Jiang Yuxin felt not so much indifference towards the waiter, as much as undigestable shame and extreme indignation, as if she herself was the waiter.
Such an experience isn’t anything out of the ordinary. Once, a German friend who had lived in London for a long time asked Jiang Yuxin to borrow a pen. The friend took the pen but couldn’t get it to write as it had just had a refill and needed pressing a few times. The friend thought the pen didn’t work, and Jiang was surprised that her first response was, ‘Is this pen made in China?’
A Chinese journalist living in the States told me he felt unable to ask a Chinese-looking stranger if they were Chinese or not. The cognitive and emotional complexity of the concept of China meant he didn’t want to risk offending them. Despite wishing to connect, he felt it best just to ask neutrally where someone was from.
These ordinary life experiences could be digested in the usual way, with notions of national civility or national rejuvenation, individual difference, or using data to show how the West is not like China. But there are other angles too: is using nationality to distinguish identity still valid today? For the Chinese community, on the one hand there is little consensus (common recognition or compliance with common sense), but on the other hand there are the strong ties of collective identity. Where does this mixture come from? Moreover, what kind of power relations are there between cultures? When one culture is more powerful or seen as superior, how does an individual from another culture deal with the discomfort formed by subtle markers of cultural consciousness? 3 Encounters, 7 Buildings, and 2500 Grains of Rice tries to bring a new nonbinary perspective to the issue.
Jiang Yuxin's work, 3 Encounters, 7 Buildings, and 2500 Grains of Rice started with personal confusion, with a self-questioning, self-refutation, reciprocating cycle of media creation, using photography, video, text, action and installation. And to maintain interest and alertness in the language of photography, as well as the broader genuine indicative language - how can this be used as a condition on which a work lies or on the expressiveness of a work, and the behaviour of the viewer.