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Modern China Reimagined in Famous 12th Century Chinese Painting

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Chinese artist and photographer Dai Xiang recently exhibited at the 2014 Lianzhoufoto Festival, his reinterpretations of the famous Song Dynasty painting “Along the River During the Qingming Festival”(清明上河图). By inserting modern scenes into an ancient backdrop, Dai Xiang cleverly depicted numerous “incidents” in recent years across China, including popular topics such as chengguan, forced demolition, prostitution, gutter oil, among many others. Netizens praised his work as an embodiment of modern Chinese society.

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Artist description of his work:

An Account of the Creation of “The Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival”

From planning to completion, this work has taken two and a half years. Based on the structure of Zhang Zeduan’s “The Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival”, i made a complete transformation in terms of both characters and events. Relying on the present, my work intends to cross the boundaries of time and space by incorporating the typical phenomenon of China in the form of dramatic posing. Realistically, this work brings to the foreground the conflict between the imported Western culture and Chinese traditional worldviews since China’s reform and opening-up. Technically, I intended to violate the laws of optics, putting multiple perspectives together so as to create an in-depth panorama, with the emphasis on the layout of all details. “I” as a sign played various roles from all walks of life, both as an onlooker and a participant, indicating the inherent connection and conflict among all elements, experiencing all kinds of stories in the process of China’s modernization.

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From Sina Weibo:

@马向明微博: The new “Along the River During the Qingming Festival”. It’s artist Dai Xiang explained that it took him 2 years using over 1,000 photographs to complete this work.

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“My dad is Li Gang incident”

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Blow-up doll in front of a sex shop

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Prostitution raid in China

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Demolition Slogan: “The earlier you sign the relocation agreement, the earlier you’ll live a happy life”.

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Time-travelling woman

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Ruthless chengguan city managers

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“Holding a body for ransom incident”

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Government officials inspecting construction

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Artist Dai Xiang

Comments on Sina Weibo:

宝妈吕莹莹:

Ancient Chinese commoners were simple, hardworking and hardy, the culture was like that too. But the garish modern scenes in this new “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” are ugly and offensive, all the bystanders were still wearing ancient clothes; instead I see more of the common people’s helplessness and naivete.

一半_格调:

I’m on my knees, so niubi so talented.

猫猫2496640364:

The artist have mental issues, he should see the doctor.

纯白粉蓝:

This is the epitome of modern society, the artists is very talented.

周春浩_深圳南山:

Modern version, very interesting!

陈玉歌:

A work that will be handed down through the ages!

代代小胖妮儿:

Full of connotations!

瞽聋:

Do they have singing red songs and plaza dancing?

littlehawk:

This is interesting, Li Gang, chengguan, forced demolition

特洛伊大卫:

Such realistic scenes, such familiar images.

燃烧与熄灭:

I suspect this [post] will be deleted.

微商联盟中心:

Our dynasty’s chengguan are so powerful.

岑珵:

I think there lack of scenes of plaza dancers and air pollution.

At丶猪:

There is even a blow-up doll…

taoismmm:

Chinese people all understand!

劳伦斯的空间:

The National Museum should consider this as part of its collection.

唐宁-律师:

A classic in a new era!

微薄已被珊:

The dynasty changed, yet the common people are still the same common people.

Update: More Pictures

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What do you think? Can you spot more Easter eggs?

Written by Joe

Joe is a documentary producer and journalist based in Shanghai

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