[-empyre-] Hongbin Wu post on Duration

Timothy Conway Murray tcm1 at cornell.edu
Thu Nov 15 06:54:18 AEDT 2018

Thanks, Tim, for inviting me to join the discussion on "Duration" in November. It's such a coincidence that the theme of the China Art Exhibition in 11th Florence Biennale which I curated in 2017 is also "Duration". So when I first met Tim in Beijing in August this year, Tim said humorously that it is fate! I think this is also the discussion and cognition of the same concept by the East and West curators from different contexts at roughly the same time, as described in a poem "Time flows through here, we happen to be present." Maybe our thinking subtly corresponds to the "Duration" theory of the French philosopher Henri Bergson. Indeed, when I was determining the theme of the exhibition, it was precisely because I saw the compatibility between Bergson's philosophy of time and the individual perceptual understanding experience of Chinese traditional philosophy.            
 "Duration" has a poetic translation in Chinese -- "绵延". The translation uses a synaesthesia about space to explain time, however opposing the "spatiality" of time is exactly what Bergson wants to do. I think there may be different presentation ways when we face the "Duration". 
 The theme of this year's Cornell Biennale is "Duration: Passage, Persistence, Survival." It is a clear and broad topic. Ethnic, gender, political, cultural, ecological and even scientific issues are included in the discussion. It has a sociological constructive possibility to explore contemporary people's duration consciousness from different perspectives.
 Exhibition "Duration" which I curated was presented from the perspective of "something lacking". Such as the "shadowing" of the time process. The existence of history and the present presence are two main endpoints that China presents to the world. Complex, diverse and even contradictory time experiences are vague. Additionally, as we all know, China currently lacks context for discussing race, gender, and some sensitive topics. These problems are hidden in the "temporality" of art to be discovered. The works of the artists I selected are based on it.Back to Bergson,"Duration" is a truth of life, and people should think in the time.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts about our East/West common interest in Duration.


Hongbin Wu

Timothy Murray
Director, Cornell Council for the Arts and Curator, CCA Biennial
Curator, Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art 
http://goldsen.library.cornell.edu <http://goldsen.library.cornell.edu/>
Professor of Comparative Literature and English
B-1 West Sibley Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York 14853

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