About Wang Taocheng’s Untitled ( Plank Bar and the Abandoned Garden of Commerzbank )

pencil, ink, water color on xuan paper
390 x 33 cm

From right to left, there are three pictures on this hand scroll. The first picture is a scene of Plank, a small bar situated in an area of the Fankfurt railway station. There are many kebab houses and hotels in the surrounding area. The following two pictures are gardens of the Commerz Bank building. This building was abandoned after the bank moved to their own office building, and is now vacant. Each window has a shutter which moves automatically in the direction of sun everyday. When they are folded closed, the window glass reflects images from three pyramid-like glass sculptures.

I could see them everyday from my room in Taunusstrasse. The poem in the work is entitled ” A Sigh in the Court of Perpetual Faith.” It was written by poet Wang Changling ( Tang Dynasty, AD 618 – 907 ). The woman in this poem is Ban Jieyu ( BC 48. 2 Han Dynasty ), a famous female writer in Chinese history, who was good at writing prose. She was a concubine of the Han Emperor. In order to get away from the political intrigue of the court, she moved to Changxin Palace to serve the Queen and lived a lonely life until her death. In her work, she often used the metaphor of a circle in her works.

The metaphor of the fan is used to describe her fate: “After summer, it /I will be destined to be thrown away and be forgotten.” This important poem by Wang is one of her most ambiguous and obscure pieces. It may come off as a slightly maudlin work complaining of an unfair fate, but hints a certain history of “separateness, being abandoned and conspiracy. ” I look at how these factors can interact to create an impact on the life of an individual to explore the idea of hopelessness of fate.

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