Entwining Rivers

“Entwining Rivers,” acrylic on paper, from Red River, 2008


Visiting Chongqing in the summer of 2000, a friend invited me to a karaoke party at his home. The song “Red River Valley” caught my attention; this was my first time hearing it in twenty-five years. Through this song, the period of the Cultural Revolution re-emerged, bringing back memories of my life in the countryside. While the song was presented with Chinese subtitles, the images did not show the Red River in Winnipeg, but instead the Rhine River. I was shocked by the twisted cultural meanings, and the situations of irony and humour that relate to our present time of globalization. My inspiration sparked. From these memories, and the song and images of this Chinese karaoke VCD, began the ideas that developed into the exhibition Red River. In the works, rivers are used to represent various histories, geographies, economies, and cultures, and as we move towards global uncertainty, the rivers map out a process whereby cultural clues serve only as mutations, aberrations, and misquotations within the global world.  – Gu Xiong