The Assembly Halls Muchen and Shao Yinong
25 Nov, 2005 - 14 Jan, 2006 | 10 Chancery Lane Gallery

Assembly Halls by Shao Yinong and Muchen 

October 25, 2005 Hong Kong—10 Chancery Lane Gallery of Hong Kong is proud to show the works by Conceptual Contemporary photographers, Shao Yinong and Muchen, entitled “Assembly Halls” on November 25, 2005.

The husband and wife team of Shao Yinong and Muchen in the series entitled, Assembly Halls have traveled to the 23 different provinces in Mainland China and photographed in truth and simplicity the very profound leftovers of the cultural revolution, which spanned between 1966 until 1976.  The assembly halls are all different, some are old barns, some renovated into restaurants, and still others into sewing factories.  The empty halls devoid of life reek with a ghost-like atmosphere of the past at once nostalgically beautiful and at the same time simmering with the historical intensity of one of China’s most turbulent periods. The halls ring with emptiness and it is in this emptiness that your mind is free to wonder and contemplate the collective memory of a nation’s gathering grounds where billions of people were indoctrinated, judged, and humiliated publicly but at the same time a place that later symbolized ceremonial gatherings such as graduations.  Although the rooms are vacant there is a feeling that the crowds have either just left or are just about to arrive.

For the artists, the Assembly Halls, represent both a personal and collective memory of their youth as they both lived through the years of the cultural revolution as children, regardless of the fact that Shao Yinong, born in 1961, was caught more in the intensity than Muchen, born in 1970.  In the past they also created works inspired by personal themes such as, “Family Register,” a photographic family tree of their own family, and “Childhood Memories,” a pictorial journey of places they remember as children. However, in the Assembly Hall series they were able to withdraw themselves from their direct experience and they succeed in creating a series of work that allows the viewers space to create their own narratives.

In describing the Assembly Halls, they are all taken in the same way from the back of the room looking at the front of the stage from the center of the hall all at the same level taken with only natural light or ceiling light. They are empty. A wide angle camera is used.  The time of day is different in the different halls. Small towns vs. big towns. Farms vs. uban environments.  Red is evident throughout the series.  From the cameraman’s eye there is a repeated series of rectangles boardering the images from the outer walls to the frame of the supporting beams leading eventually to the stage drawing your eye into the center of the room. The rectangles are further supported by a triangular rooftop reminiscent of a Chinese peasant hat. The geometry gives depth to the photographs.  Additionally the balance and strength of the images are pulled together by pairs of objects that further give strength and solidity to the space and their purpose.