Featured in The Chinese Photobook: From the 1900s to the Present
In Chinese dictionary, monument is described as a gigantic monument, referring to incredible masterpieces, great achievements, valuable objects or famous examples, in particular, referring to talents and successes in art or intelligence recorded or preserved so far. We all hope we will be remembered by history, dreaming to be inscribed onto this historic gigantic monument. However, the monument is too small to record all of us. Therefore history has been changed with records on the monument being smeared and reconstructed.
In China, every profession, every working unit, every office will have its daily agenda, monthly report, and annual sum-up. People tend to summarize the excellence of the history at an interval of every five-year, every ten year or every century. We screen flashbacks and review what we gain and what we lose, our successes and fallouts over the past life and work processes. This kind of summary recorded in a monumental style can be seen along a long window corridor display in local communities as s well as in China National History Museum.
As a late comer, upon viewing the past history, we discover dramatic changes in the historical records. Why have these records been changed? Because some one “tamper with” and “make up” other versions of history, hoping “we” to be remembered by the history and not the rest of others, “our” achievements be highlighted while others be dwindled. Nobody refuses to be cited or quoted in an “official history” and be inscribed on a monument for respect. Therefore, I often doubt the validity of such profoundly “manufactured history”. History often has two versions, the official one and the unofficial one. I am more interested in the unofficial one which draws all our attention closely. We need another story of the unofficial history to approve of “a valid official record” in our heart.
"Since August 2009, I started to work with two hundred models over fifteen days, shooting the 42-metre-long History of Monuments. This work is my reflection on what is told about civilisations, beauties, virtues, standards and norms The models are smeared with mud and placed into the carved out contours of the photo backdrop. Chinese traditions are handed down from generation to generation with many documents on the historical figures, poetries, literature, dramas, etc. Often the powerful people like to summarize their achievements during their reign times. So each dynasty has its interpretations of its dynasty and the former dynasties. It is undeniable that many such versions are misguided." — Wang Qingsong
History of Monuments is an accordion fold book that can be read on both sides and measures 8,40m in length when fully opened. It is hand bound in two covers and presented in a handmade slipcase purple box. It's printed in an edition of just 450 copies.