Under the Spring Sunshine 春光下
“春光 Chun Guang” is my father’s name, which translates directly into English meaning “sunshine in the spring day”. My father was born on October 1, 1969 in the village named Da Jia Wa 大家洼 of Shouguang, Shandong Province, a very ordinary northern village in China. My father is the eldest son of the family and the also one of the earliest university students in the entire village. In a time when the basic needs’ material was extremely scarce, it was extremely difficult for a family to fund a child to complete university. Even so, my grandfather still tried his best to help my father complete the study.
My father is a bridge engineer. In the past 20 years, my father and his team have built more than 200 bridges in Shandong Province. And I grew up with my father’s support and became an artist. My father built so many bridges on the land, but did not build the bridge between a father and son. Or, in those past years, both of us have not try to build up that bridge. But it is also because the bridges that stand on the land make me come here today.
Family seems to be a topic that everyone can’t get around. Father, mother, son, daughter, siblings. Based on different cultural backgrounds, different questions have been raised by people all over the world. What does family mean to me? In my narrow worldview, if a person is a basic social element, then the family is like a basic social unit. We come from this unit and belong to this unit. We exert the personality and qualities that this unit gives us through various social actions. Based on the different roles, each unit will generate different relationship attributes and generate new social forms, just like the different arrangement and connection of carbon atoms in a substance form millions of different life forms.
I was born in an ordinary traditional middle-class one-child family in China. Restricted by social rules and historical conditions, Chinese society has given these families different tags:
Ordinary, describing that members of this unit have no special social treatment or status.
Traditionally, it describes the cultural acceptance of this unit.
Middle-class describes the economic situation of this unit.
One-child describes the basic structure of this unit: a father, a mother, and of course, a child.
Looking back at the various trajectories of Chinese history, the only child (the only son) often bears huge family responsibilities and common social responsibilities. The will to succeed and continue the family is higher than the personal development and interest in Chinese culture. Of course, it is the responsibility of every child to assume expectations, since they are still in the mother’s womb. It is also a poetic thing for children to prolong the lives of their parents. My birth and growth are also a long-term surprise for my parents. No matter how rebellious I used to be, in the end, I couldn’t look back on my way to “becoming my father”.
Art, Family, Artist 艺术，家，艺术家
My entry into the realm of art is actually not something that my parents expected. And eventually becoming an artist also different from what my parents expected of me. My father and mother are engineers. From rigorous drawing and measurement to overall design and manufacturing, these are the daily routines of their work. I thought art had nothing to do with this, but after several years of exploring myself as an artist, I suddenly realized that what I was doing was actually the same as what my parents were doing. Or everything is connected. In this way, I slowly felt that I was becoming “him”. No matter how many times I have denied it. I am finally following or continuing my father ’s and mother ’s footprints.
When I was an undergraduate at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, it was probably because too many new ideas and facts entered in my brain in just a few years. Maybe it’s because I live in a city like Beijing with the richest political landscape in the world. Or perhaps it was driven by rebellious and critical consciousness squeezed through years of mechanical education. I spent a lot of time focusing on the the bottom social groups, and the identity of citizens in new cities to historical regrets and political surveillance. I am still attached to these topics and will continue to explore them. But while I was constantly exploring my external space, some things also happened in my internal space. Especially after I came to the United States to study and left home thousands of kilometers.
50 Years Old 五十岁
In 2019 my father is 50 years old. Due to the studying here in the United States, I was not able to celebrate this birthday with him personally. But this birthday has become an important point in my art. I suddenly realized that I spent too much time in the past few years exploring what happened in this world without caring about the changes in my heart. On the one hand, because I focused on the exploration of art topics, I reduced the time spent with them. On the other hand, due to this physical distance separation. My father and mother are getting older while I exploring my art path here in the USA.
No matter what I have today, it is all thanks to my parents. They gave me the greatest help and support they could do. So after finishing the “United Arena”, I stopped. I seriously recalled my relationship with my family, especially my relationship with my father. Because on the one hand, in terms of relationship, I feel gradually separated from my father in recent years. On the other hand, my father is the main sponsor of my studies in the United States. My life, study and creation are closely related to him.
Strangely, I seem to know what my father is doing. But I don’t know exactly. I haven’t even seen what my father has done for many years. On the other side, my father seems to know that I am doing art. But he has never seen my work except for my undergraduate graduation exhibition. We also never talk to each other about what we are doing. This strange “non-physiological isolation” has been around for many years. My father even asked me if I continued to paint, and I have put down the brush for many years. After graduating from high school, when I no longer have a transcript with specific scores, it seems that we rarely communicate with each other about the detail of each’s life.
This tacit father-son relationship made me suddenly speechless. I began to recall the memories of my father, and these memories seemed to be gradually forgotten because of this alienation. But what happened has already existed. And my father and I share these stories but no one wants to mention them again. So in such a loss and sadness, my “family topic” started.
Live under the Spring Sunshine 活在春光照耀下
“Unspeakable” is the first part of works I completed under this theme, “Sculpt” is the second work, and “Imbalance (tentative name)” is the third part of this series.
“Unspeakable” mainly describes my discussion of the barriers and avoidance of common family relationships nowadays. The un-openable storybook represents the interweaving of memories, the mutual entanglement of emotion, and the silence between two generations. The phone that could not be picked up talked about the responsibilities and pressures faced by the two generations when dealing with relationships. Although these two works are based on my personal experience, I tried not to limit the scope of the discussion to my family and make it more universal.
“Sculpt” is my exploration of family memory. At the same time, it is also some thinking and salvation to my long-term escaping to family relations problem. I tried to save my lost memory by constantly polishing the image of my father in the carved wood.
Through fighting against fuzzy memories, I tried to recall my father’s body size, appearance, clothing and shape. But no matter how I modified and recalled, the final image of these memory fragments is still far from my father. But the process of sculpting the body is like the process of putting together memories. Because the image in my mind seems to be more and more clearer and sharper. I find that the sculpture itself become more and more inaccurate.
It seems that only continuous carving can finally get the actual appearance of my father. The sculpture itself has become less important in this process, and only the behavior of continuous recalling memories and carving is the way out for me to complete this redemption.
I am working on is another exploration of the expectations and stumbling between two generations. Just as Atlas lifted the sky with his arms, I lifted the huge heavy device in motion to try to bear his weight and find balance under his movement. When I think about my relationship with my father, I often feel that the two of us have lost balance in the relationship. And my long-term neglect of this unbalanced state has also caused an imbalance in my body and mind. On the one hand, I shoulder the expectations and dreams of my family. On the other hand, I was oppressed by this expectation, and even affected by it. I was tired and lost the focus of my life. The huge rotating device is a symbol of this ongoing imbalance. And I have to shoulder these things and move on.
The lifting here is not a resistance to my father. Because when I lift up the installation, I am confronting the energy generated by the imbalance in the existing relationship, not the relationship with my father itself. The feeling of oppression due to weight is the pressure that I am trying to simulate in this relationship. Or, in other words, when I visualize these pressures and struggles. As a son, I am also acquiescing or re-understanding these pressures and expectations from the previous generation.
Due to the impact of the COVID-19, the production of “Imbalance (tentative name)” is still in progress. I have now completed the structure of some of my works. I plan to complete the whole work this summer. The final form of the work will consist of a kinetics installation and a recorded performance video. But my discussion on the theme of family has not ended. As the theme of my artistic connection, I am still planning other works in the near future.
Born in Qingdao, China in 1995, Sun Junyi’s is an artist whose work focuses on contemporary life modes and social statelet. He interrogates the human existent by exploring the subtle and sensitive feelings of social participants in their daily lives. Junyi’s works have a wide range of topics, such as politics, regional cultural differences, social landscape and the relationship between man and nature. Junyi is using different media such as sculptures, installations, performances to find the trajectory of contemporary life, from the Internet society to the cultural phenomenon of the real society from social anxiety to personal privacy in the public view, from political movements to historical monuments, from private memory to family relationship. Through practical actions and social experiment, he pays attention to the evolution of the human existent in the contemporary society.