象征 March of the Elephants (2022), Single-Channel Video (color, sound), 41'21"
The Lancang River basin is the traditional habitat of the Asian elephant, and in the Dai language, 'Lancang' originally means 'million elephants'. Because of their size, elephants have repeatedly been given symbols that transcend their own. And these symbols are layered on top of each other, traveling through time and in turn obscuring the elephants themselves. Through the encounter between elephants and external in different historical contexts, the video March of the Elephants (象=image/elephant, 征=represent/march, while 象征 means symbol, and also means 'march of the elephants' ) attempts to look back at the entanglement between things and discourses, and how together they traverse history to construct new realities.
This video is roughly divided into three passages corresponding to the three eras and three discourses that the elephant traverses: the elephant in Dai mythology and legend, the elephant during the period of socialist construction and the early 1970s, and the elephant in the present. The author attempts to appropriate visual materials, sound materials and discourses from the corresponding periods for a self-reflexive narrative. The materials include 19th century French colonial prints, Dai Southern Theravada Buddhist monastery murals, 1950s films and old photographs, 1970s comic strips, and today's mobile phone images, surveillance images and drone images. From these differently sourced yet interconnected symbols, we can see how the elephants march through different histories and are continually obscured by various symbolic discourses.
This work is commissioned by Guangdong Times Museum.