94 Ruin Cleaning Project

94 Ruin Cleaning Project

A description of the Ruin cleaning project (1994)

Faced with the impact exerted by the commercial tide on urban development, artists are becoming more and more powerless, because nobody can hinder the growth of cities. Cities need modernization and must adapt to the pace of the international economic advancement. In the process moving towards modernization any kind of ideas and thoughts will appear, but actions play the most powerful role. Some things have disappeared (perhaps those you like), and some new things have appeared (perhaps those you don’t like), but artists have no chance to comment about this. Because of this fact, artists start to doubt about their role, and even doubt about the value of art. This situation is even more embarrassing today, when art shouldn’t be just watched but should involve also the participation of society. 

But art has its own point of view. It is neither the same held by the government which is aimed at social intervention, nor it is aimed at menacing society as that of anti-government armed forces.  Because of its nature, art has to face the impossibility of being able to influence society through its actions. What art emphasizes are independent, spiritual values that unfortunately are easily overlooked in the process of social change characterized by intense turmoil. 

I have been trying to find such values through my artworks, because we still have to be positive towards art. It seems that no matter in which social context, and which stage of development society will reach, art will always occupy a special position. Art is neither a question of warm participation or protest, nor of transcendental or religious beliefs. Following the changes undergone by society art doesn’t correspond to the stereotyped notion people have in their minds. The sole legitimacy for art’s existence is that it is able to convey to people different feelings. From another perspective, through art people may be able to re-evaluate everything.

Zhan Wang 
November 1994

Ruin cleaning plan: proposals and results (1994) 

Time: October 12 to October 14, 1994
Place: East relocation area of Wangfujing Street, Beijing 
Overview of the plan: As the urban construction and reconstruction tide approaches, Wangfujing Street, the most flourishing street in Beijing, has also became the object of reconstruction. Although there were beautiful buildings with Chinese and Western styles of architecture combined, they could not escape from the fate of being demolished. Because the capital needs modernization, needs a commercial district. Therefore we decided to decorate these ruins just for one day while the workers involved in the demolition where at rest. 

The decoration and cleaning process is as follows:
1. Clean a pillar with red bricks; then repaint the pillar with red paint;
2. Clean the half-leftover white door frame; then repaint it with white paint;
3. Clean the decorative ceramic tiles with a piece of cloth;
4. Decorate a wall with indoor coating materials.

Cleaning tools employed: brushes, detergent, oil colors, interior coating material, etc.

On the same evening, the bulldozers continued to clear out the house and razed all the nearby houses to the ground a few days later. Many years later, new buildings rise here.

Zhan Wang 
October 14, 1994

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