ASH refers to the ashes of death: “In the cycle of life, one goes back to where one came from, all souls return to their creator.”
Year 2009 marked the fifth year of my project “Going Home”, yet the number of pictures that I took in the Three Gorges region gradually declined. Practical reasons made it impossible for me to face the silent and forbearing local people any longer, and so I returned to my hometown to ponder on how to continue my work. Slowing down to give more time for reflection, I took on an old view camera. The change was initially intended to capture how individuals look in reality. I discovered that the countenances and expression from the eyes are filled with the contradictory facets of both hope and helplessness.
May 2010, my daughter was born. From then on my perception of life changed. I began to explore the world through the eyes of a child. Curiosity is the starting point of how children view and interact with the world; the things around them are of the greatest interest. Thus emerged the concept for the photo series “Still Objects”. For example, metal wires in a vase. When the light imprints on the wall the shadow of the vase filled with twisted metal wires, the image is beautiful, but at the same time brutal. Since then I’ve slowly begun to observe every aspect of daily life and to love this world instead of ridiculing it. When I used the view camera to re-understand my hometown as it is now, I’ve discovered that all things in the real world derive from our internal desire: the karma cycle of yearning for nature, destroying nature, and mending nature. Hence, I’ve gone to nature to look for the three unchangeable elements – mountain, water, and stone – to observe the traces of time and history and restored to nature its very essence: solemn, respectful, and mysterious. I had formerly felt resentful of the world and viewed everything in the worst light. Now I like to look at things and objects as they are – in this simple world in which we live.
These images are taken from understandings gleaned from my daily life, the traces of time and history in nature, and a person”s thoughts of the future when faced with reality.
“Going Home”(2005-2010) is Muge’s previous work, for which he returned to his hometown of Chongqing, to document the changes wrought by the construction of the Three Gorges Dam downstream from Chongqing on the Yangtse River. The Three Gorges Project was decided by the Chinese government in 1992, and resulted in the submerging of more than 20 counties and districts in Hubei Province and Chongqing, more than 270 villages and towns and more than 1500 companies. Muge’s home town was located in one of these flooded areas.