BOYS AND GIRLS
When Yesui (Ye Yongqing’s nickname) asked me to write
a short essay for the exhibition “Boys and girls”, which he
planned to hold in Kunming’s newly restored warehouse, I felt a
bit lost. This feeling is not due to lack of familiarity with the artists’
work, rather to the impression that all of us: the curator, the artists
and myself, are talking about persons (today’s teenagers) whom we
do not really know. All the artists, with the exception of Yang Fan (29),
the youngest and the only woman, are in their thirties or forties, therefore
can only look at the younger generations from afar. In order to give a
voice to today’s teenagers, who are the favorite subject in many
of the paintings shown, I have interviewed several students in a Shanghai’s
design school. Their answers, recorded on the spot, are here reported
What do you think of the relationship between boys and girls?
Wang: (17 years, female) The relationship between boys
and girls is very normal, very spontaneous, very friendly.
Tang: (18 year, male) Very spontaneous.
Zhang: (21 year, male) Very natural and spontaneous,
but sometimes the parents or the society make it very unnatural and troublesome.
you had a boyfriend/girlfriend?
Wang: Yes. I did once: It was a normal feeling, sometimes
happy, sometimes sad ... That’s all.
Tang: Yes I have.
Luo: (15 year, female) No. I am not interest in this.
I think it is not for people of my age.
Li: (16 year, female) No, no yet, but many of our friends
have. I don’t think it is time for that yet. Beside that, I think
that love relationship bring a lot of troubles. I’d rather try to
reach a peaceful mind and do the things like, rather than to get in this
kind of troubles.
Zhang: I do have a girlfriend. I think to have love relationship
is something very natural, when it happens it happens, you do not have
to force it.
is the aim of having a partner?
Wang: The aim? Well, I think it is an aim itself-you
have to try in order to know what it is.
it aimed at marriage?
Wang: Of course not. If you plan to marry you should
consider a lot of things, how to take care of your partner, be responsible
and so on. To be in love is another thing, it is very free.
Zhang: I think relationship are aimed at marriage. It
maybe depends on my education. I think at my age (21) I should be responsible
for my partner. Of course, at the beginning you don’t necessarily
think so but the slowly you do.
you think your parent’s generation view is very different?
Wang: Sure, the difference is great. In the past the
society was rather conservative. In the recent years it has been evolving,
and it will keep on evolving. My parents are in their forties, and sometimes
they have a hard time understanding my way to relate to boys.
Tang: There is a difference, my parents are not very
open. They take very seriously things we do not really pay much attention
to. For example this earring, my father hates it. For me it does not have
any special meaning. For them it does. For me it is only a way to express
Luo: I feel that sometimes there is a gap in the communication,
for example sometimes they cannot stand the music I listen to. They find
it too noisy.
Zhang: My parents apparently do not understand me, but
depth I believe they do. They do not support me nor they are against me.
I think it is right. My parents are rather open. Once I tell them my thoughts,
they can understand me. They are 46 years old. In some respects, of course,
there is some misunderstanding, but we all try hard.
Li: My parents understand me, they are quite open. They
try to understand the things I like, and so do I. They both work in design.
They are quite old, in their forties.
Wang: I think that the way they look at things is much
more complicated that ours. There is a generation gap, even though we
all look for material and spiritual satisfaction.
Tang: I feel that the elder generation does not understand
the way we use money, the way we spend it.
hobbies do you have?
Wang: Listening to music, reading, buying things, seeing
Tang: Sport. Sport and music are my greatest interest.
I do like to buy things, and to decide what is the most convenient and
fun thing to buy.
Li: To read books, to paint, to write calligraphy, to
listen to music. I listen to many kind of music, also classical. I also
like to look at cartoons, especially Japanese. I do read them because
I want to draw them myself, like many others friends. I think to read
novels and read cartoons is different: the novels make you a lot of imagination,
in the cartoons you pay attention to the drawing skillfulness.
Luo: To read, to write, to listen to music. Rock, Japanese
rock. To surf on the net. I am looking for matters regarding art and music.
Zhang: Sport and painting. I don’t have much time
to read, but I like music a lot. I like any kind of music. I do surf on
the net, but seldom.
Ma: (17 years, female) I like to listen to music, to
read books, to see friends, to see art work, to cook, and so on.
you know anything about Chinese contemporary art?
Wang: Not much. I sometimes look at art books and magazines,
especially on oil painting, but they are not very contemporary.
Tang: Not much. I do no know much about it. But I do
like to look at art books, for instance on drawing ...
Li: We do not know much, we do not have the chance to
Luo: I have seen some. I am interested. I have read some
magazines, I find them interesting, sometimes I talk with my classmates
about it, I ask them whether they understand something.
Zhang: I do know some of the installation artist, they
are pretty famous.
you think advertisement influences your way to get dressed, to eat and
Luo: I don’t think so. Today’s advertisements
are very extreme, they are not really close to our life. I myself do decide
what to wear according to my own taste and my body. We do like to go to
Mac Donald, for example, but we do not think the food is great there:
is just a meeting point.
Zhang: I think so. We are very young and inexperienced,
so we are very easy to be influenced by advertisements.
things and spirituality: which is the most important in your opinion?
Tang: I think spirituality, no matter what, is the most
Zhang: I think the spirituality is more important. The
spiritual part of you can decide the material one. It is not the contrary.
But I have the feeling that my schoolmates think differently.
is your greatest dream/ideal?
Wang: I want to become a designer.
Tang: My ideal is to become a singer, to sing pop music.
Li: I hope to keep on developing my skills. I hope to
be able to do what I like.
Luo: I have a lot of dreams, but they are too great.
I do not have much hope. For the time being I can only continue with my
study, and the best would be to become a famous advertising company’s
Zhang: When I was young I had a lot. I mean, few year
ago. But now I realize that it is rather difficult to make them become
true. Now my dream is to become a successful artist, I would like to be
an installation artist like teacher Hu. A successful artist is someone
who gets recognition from outside, someone who is able, through art, to
express what he wants, and to be understood by others.
Ma: I want to go to Dunhuang. I want to see the grottoes,
the desert. It is a dream and it is an approach to art and life. After
that, I have other dreams: to study music, to paint better, and so on.
My dreams are quite concrete, and I want to get them. (I have asked some
people of my age to reply to the same question, and here’s the result,
as a reference for the reader)
Zeng: (38 year, male) To be peasant.
Zhuang: (38 year, male) I have no dreams. I had one once,
to find the right wife. I had to give it up.
Mo: (38 year, female) To find interest in life, everyday.
Duan: (31 year, female) To be free to do what I like
as an artist and not to take part in any art trends.
Wei: (30 year, male) To be able to do the things I like.
Chen: (43 year, female) To understand what means to be
born and to die.
Zhou: (46 year, male) To a free person, and to have a
Zeng: (36 year, male) To be a common person.
Zhang: (43 year, male) To have a dream.
Jin: (33 year, female) To have two children and to do
well with my company.
Xie: (33 year, female) Not to have to study so hard.
He: (27 year, female) To make a very good dinner which
could make my friends very happy.
Wang: (45 year, male) Dream? What is a dream?
Dematte’ Beijing, May 2001