The Ship of Time

Zhu Jinshi


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xuan paper, bamboo, cotton thread
installed approximately 350 x 350 x 1500 cm
The Ship of Time required 14,000 sheets of xuan paper, 1800 pieces of fine bamboo and 2000 cotton threads each seven metres long. Zhu’s team travelled to ancient villages in the Yellow Mountains in Anhui Province (so called in honour of the Yellow Emperor, Huang Di, and, according to legend, the place from which he ascended to heaven). There they developed fireproof rice paper and selected bamboo, before spending several months in the studio shaping the paper, baking the bamboo to straighten it, making holes and cutting three-metre sections. The Ship of Time references Buddhist notions about the passage of life. As with an earlier iteration, entitled Boat (2012), the work recalls how boats have been potent symbols in many cultures. From ancient Egyptian and Greek beliefs about the transport of souls, to early Christian, Byzantine and medieval iconography, the boat often signifies spiritual journeys and redemption. Inside Zhu Jinshi’s cylindrical ark the light is filtered through the softly translucent paper. The rounded shape of the bamboo structure, suspended from the ceiling and covered in delicate sheets of overlapping, layered rice paper, recalls vistas seen in Chinese gardens through moon windows and corridors. In the traditional Chinese garden, one was never intended to see the landscaping in its entirety, but rather section by section as you wandered across a bridge or looked through the latticed windows of a pavilion by a lake. So too the journey from one end of The Ship of Time to the other provides distinctly different micro and macro views.
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