Oil on linen
70 × 55 in
Han Bing grew up in an impoverished village in rural China. After fifteen years of labor in the rural areas, in Beijing, he was moved by the harsh contrast between the urbanized “Chinese dream” propelling the nation’s struggle to become “modern”, and the cruel realities of those left behind, or trodden underfoot in this stampede. Exploring the struggles and desires of ordinary people in China’s “theater of modernization”, his works invert quotidian practice, reinvent everyday objects and ask us to rethink the order of things. Han Bing’s works are dedicated to Social Praxis of Art.
In Urban Amber, Han Bing’s visual interventions also raise questions about the paradoxes of desire. Desire for Han Bing is an irreducibly bifurcated modality, that is, it has powerful manifestations and effects that can be both beautiful and poisonous. In his conceptual photography series of single-exposure images, Urban Amber, this paradox takes on a different form. The spectre of glamorous high-rises, those icons of middle-class China’s dream of home and a better life, are juxtaposed to the rundown, temporary dwellings of the urban poor living in their shadows. These fantasy high-rises appear resplendent and dream-like until you realize that their inverted images are reflected in Beijing’s ubiquitous, industrial-waste and garbage-infested “stink rivers”. Like amber, these rivers capture sediment of the times, showing us through a mirror darkly, the underbelly of China’s fantasy of modernity.