Part III of Trilogy by Lu Nan: Four Seasons—Everyday Life of Tibetan Peasants（1996 - 2004）No.013
The three component works of the Trilogy present three states of the life-phenomenon
——Lu Nan's 10 replies to Magnum
Magnum: You have said that this project ‘chose you’, can you elaborate on that?
Lu Nan：In my Trilogy, the final photograph in The Forgotten People was taken in a church, showing a priest as he gave a blessing to a mentally ill church member. The moment I took that photo, I realized that my second project would be Catholicism, and that my third one would be Tibet. If I say that I deliberately chose the project on mental illness, then the following projects on Catholicism and Tibet chose me, because only those three projects would constitute an extended work with inner connection and coherence.
The Forgotten People is about suffering and adversity; On the Road is about purification; Four Seasons is about a blessed, serene and peaceful state (According to the Buddhist view, heaven is not an abstract idea, it is a concrete reality: when a person’s inner being is in a state of serenity and peace, then that person is living in heaven and existing in blessedness).
The three component works of the Trilogy present three states of the life-phenomenon. In our life course, we all experience these three life-states to a greater or lesser extent. The soul's paramount and ultimate wish is to be out of sufferings and, through purification, reach a blessed state of peace-at-heart. This wish is what connects the three parts together.
Works from Part I: The Forgotten People—The Condition of China's Psychiatric Patients（1989 - 1990）
The Forgotten People
—The Condition of China's Psychiatric Patients No.01
The Forgotten People
—The Condition of China's Psychiatric Patients No.04
The Forgotten People
—The Condition of China's Psychiatric Patients No.06
The Forgotten People
—The Condition of China's Psychiatric Patients No.32
The Forgotten People
—The Condition of China's Psychiatric Patients No.39
Magnum: How does this project connect to Buddhist beliefs ? Why do you believe the Tibetan peasants are ‘existing in blessedness’?
Lu Nan: In rural Tibet, the vast majority of the peasants believe in Buddhism, but their religious faith has no fixed ceremony and they hardly hold religious activities. Most families aperiodically invite monks or someone knowledgeable of the sutras to chant at home. Their religious belief is deeply integrated into their daily life, which embodies more in their attitude towards the Nature, divinities, other living beings, as well as towards birth, aging, sickness, death, etc. Four Seasons presents the daily life of peasants as well as their religious beliefs beyond rituals. For buddhists, happiness has nothing to do with rich or not, but with peace of mind in the present moment. In their peaceful inner state, Tibetan peasants live and work leisurely and at ease without being trapped by the past or disturbed by the future.
This is the state of happiness according to Buddhism, which resonates with the blessedness sought by Epicureanism, Stoicism and Spinozism.
Works from Part II: On the Road—The Catholic Faith in China（1992 - 1996）
On the Road—The Catholic Faith in China No.01
On the Road—The Catholic Faith in China No.31
On the Road—The Catholic Faith in China No.16
On the Road—The Catholic Faith in China No.51
On the Road—The Catholic Faith in China No.54
Magnum: Though the peasants work in harsh conditions, it seems like they live a fulfilled and happy life. Would you say that's true?
Lu Nan: Faced with the harsh living conditions, scarcity of materials and various kinds of hardships they suffer, the Tibetan peasants still maintain an optimistic and peaceful attitude that cannot be destroyed. This is the reality that anyone who has gone to Tibet could see and feel.
By the end of the work of Four Seasons, every grain that the Tibetan peasants harvested from the land belongs to themselves. The gap between the rich and the poor among peasant families was very small. The only difference between the rich and the poor in most families was that one family has dozens of more sheep than the other, or several more pots or thermos bottles. The few relatively wealthy families were polygamous. The custom of sharing a wife among peasants in Tibet is a countermeasure adopted by the families with many children to avoid the dispersal of family property due to sons' marriages and living apart. This social environment with little difference between the rich and the poor also created conditions for them to maintain an optimistic and peaceful life.
Magnum: How do men and women's role differ ?
Lu Nan: Men sew and women weave. In other jobs, both men and women are involved in different degrees. It is the man who makes the decisions in the family.
Magnum: You document the rituals of farm-life but also the rituals of their customs and culture -- can you talk more about that side of their life? What they like to do when they're not working?
Lu Nan: All the year round, the peasants have endless work to do from morning till night. In addition to the regular work like spring sowing and autumn harvest, sewing and weaving, the work they do the most is twisting wool into yarn.
Magnum: How important is family and friendship within this culture?
Lu Nan: Tibetans are the nationality who cares and values the relationships a lot, especially their relationships among family members is very deep. When you visit one family, if only the children are at home, you can't ask them where their parents go, because of the harsh environment, poverty and lack of medical care, one of their parents may have died. The children may immediately begin to weep by being asked so. Therefore, when you go to one family, you should ask first how many people there are in the family, who are there, and then you know whether the children's parents are still alive. The friendships among the peasants reflect a lot in the way of mutual assistance. For example, when one family builds a house, every family in the village will send one person to help unconditionally.
Magnum: As is revealed in the title, the seasons are integral to the Tibetan peasants’ way of life. Can you describe the shifts that occurred with each change in season ? (How did the landscape change / How did their workload change etc.?)
Lu Nan: Spring and autumn in Tibet are very short. The most obvious seasons are summer and winter. Sowing in spring and harvesting in autumn are determined by the seasons. In addition, the peasants shear wool before the summer then twist it into yarns to be used for weaving daily necessities such as clothes and quilts. This work is repeated and goes on year after year.
Works from Part III: Four Seasons—Everyday Life of Tibetan Peasants（1996 - 2004）
Four Seasons—Everyday Life of Tibetan Peasants No.010
Four Seasons—Everyday Life of Tibetan Peasants No.077
Four Seasons—Everyday Life of Tibetan Peasants No.052
Four Seasons—Everyday Life of Tibetan Peasants No.089
Four Seasons—Everyday Life of Tibetan Peasants No.109
Magnum: The project took 7 years to complete. Can you talk me through how you approached it logistically? (i.e. How long did you stay for each trip? How did you decide where to visit?)
Lu Nan: From 1996 to 2004 I made nine trips to Tibet and stayed three to four months each time. On my last two trips, between August 2002 and May 2004, I worked in Tibet for fifteen months—six months for the first time and nine months for the second. During the work for Four Seasons, I photographed the entire spring sowing twice and the entire autumn harvest four times.
My way of choosing location is simple, as long as there are people in a place. I usually lodged at the township government. I would lay a ruler over the map to calculate the distance. Anywhere within 2.5 hour walking distance and had no fewer than six villages is where I would go. I walked at a speed of no less than 7.5 kilometers per hour.
Magnum: How did you adapt to their way of life during the time you spent there? What did you learn from them?
Lu Nan: In Tibet, life is fully respected. Peasants do not use pesticides, even when they are provided free by the government, because the pesticides will kill insects. After their death, through celestial and water burials, the peasants use their bodies to nourish those who fly in the sky and those who swim in the water. Four Seasons is paying a tribute to Tibetan peasants.
Magnum: How did the works of Goethe and Eichmann influence this body of work?
Lu Nan: Goethe's belief in the infinite value of living in the present and his overall vision of everything determines the levelof Four Seasons.
During the seven years of photographing Four Seasons, no matter how familiar I was with the peasants' lifestyle and their customs, I always prepared to leave empty-handed before I went to Tibet, because the fascinationof life also lies in its impermanence, which is also the inspiration and solace of life for me.
Born in Beijing;
Started to photograph State of Chinese Psychiatric Wards which was completed in 1990;
Started to photograph Catholic Church in China which was completed in 1996;
Started to photograph Everyday Life of Tibet Peasants which was completed in 2004;
Started to photograph Prison Camps in Northern Myanmar which was completed in 2006.
Lu Nan: Trilogy Photographs [1989-2004], Museu Cole??o Berardo, Lisbon, Portugal
The Forgotten People: The State of Chinese Psychiatric Wards, VISA POUR L'IMAGE, Perpignan, France
Underground Chinese Catholic Community: Photograpy by Lu Nan, Loyola University Museum of Art, Chicago, USA
Heaven and Hell, St. Thomas Royal Monastery, Avila, Spain
Prison Camps in Northern Myanmar, Art Museum of Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), Beijing
The Hidden Spiritual World: 15-years Photography by Lu Nan, Art Museum of Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts, Tianjin
Prison Camps in Northern Myanmar, Inter Art Center, Beijing
The Eternal Measure: 15-years Photography of Lu Nan, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou
China’s Independent Photography, Houston FotoFest, Texas, United States
15-years Photography of Lu Nan, Songzhuang Museum of Art, Beijing
The Four Seasons: Everyday life of Tibet peasants, Inter Art Center, Beijing
15-years Photography of Lu Nan (slide show), Lianzhou International Photo Festival, Guangdong Province
15-years Photography of Lu Nan (slide show), Pingyao International Photography Festival, Shanxi Province
40 Years of Chinese Contemporary Photography (1976-2018), OCAT, Shenzhen, China
40 Years of Chinese Contemporary Photography (1976-2017),Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing, China
Too Loud A Solitude: Stalkers of Chinese Contemporary Art, Hive Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China
Chinese Photography: Twentieth Century and Beyond, Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing, China
Grain to Pixel: A Story of Photography in China, SC?P, Shanghai, China
The Traveller’s Note, Hive Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing
Image Anxiety, Photo Espa?a, Madrid, Spain
Faces of Life—China’s contemporary portrait, CAFA Museum of Art, Beijing
One Dot in Space-time—Collection of Contemporary Art by Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou
One Dot in Space-time—Collection of Contemporary Art by Guangdong Museum of Art, Taiwan National Gallery, Taichung
Reshaping History: China New Art from 2000-2009, China National Convention Center, Beijing
10 Chinese Artists and Their Twenty Years Old, Angle Gallery, Beijing
The People·History, CAFA Museum of Art, Beijing
Guangzhou International Photography Biennale, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou
Chinese Contemporary Photography of 20 years, Sifang Museum of Art, Nanjing
Absolute Landscape between Illusion and Reality, Yokohama Museum of Art, Japan
蜂巢北京 HIVE BEIJING
蜂巢深圳 HIVE SHENZHEN
Hive Center for Contemporary Art
Hive Center for Contemporary Art was founded by XIA Jifeng and stated to operate as a gallery in 2013. Located in the renowned 798 Art Zone in Beijing, the Main Gallery owns five exhibition spaces in a 4000m2 building. By representing outstanding artists and providing high quality artconsultant service, Hive Center for Contemporary Art is committed to building itself as one of the most professional contemporary art galleries in mainland China.
Hive's Branch in Shenzhen, inaugurated in March 2017，and situated at the OCT art zone, now is open to the public .
Hive Center for Contemporary Art (Beijing)
E06 798 Art Zone, 100015, Beijing, China
Hive Center for Contemporary Art (Shenzhen)
1-5 Block A4, North Zone OCT-Loft, Nanshan District, 518053 Shenzhen, China
Opening hours, Tues.-Sun.10:00-18:00, closed on Mondays
Tel. 北京 Beijing +86 010 59789530 / 59789531
Tel. 深圳 Shenzhen +86 0755 86547786
官方微信：蜂巢艺术 (ID: HIVEART2013)
Instagram & Facebook：@hiveartcenter