Single-channel video installation
4:3 | 4K | Colour | 32’27” | Stereo | Japanese dialogue | Chinese and English subtitles
By the end of WWII, a surviving logistic soldier and a Buddhist Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji sect military missionary still stayed in the Hailar underground fortress, which was a frontline military fortress situated near the Manchuria and Soviet Union border. The fortress covered 21 square kilometres through the mountains and the city, which had been unnoticed even by those living above ground. To kill time in the underworld, the soldier and monk had casual conversations that covered everything from a Buddhist scripture banned by their motherland to the question of whether the Soviet red army had already left.
The underground fortress was a maze; those who were living in the dark learnt to endure the spectres, otherwise, the deadly air would consume the beings’ souls. The fortress was deafeningly silent, only the sound of blowing wind from the exit of the underground fortress could be heard. The soldier peered out a hole at the tunnel ceiling, which was blown open by the Soviets, and he spots no sign of human beings.
After being physically confined for a long time, people lost immunity to that invisible, pervasive, and airborne fear. Instead of embracing the long-desired freedom, the sudden release caused mental disorientation and discomfort, which were more virulent and contagious than the virus, and seep permeably into our minds and fleshes. As the classic hermeticism suggests, As Above, So Below: that which is above is from that which is below, the underground darkness could not train a slight feeling of tranquillity, just as the illness of ignorance above ground blinds the eyes.
The military missionary sat crouched at the entrance of the tunnel, inaudibly chanting the forbidden verse.
The project is commissioned by Asia Culture Center (Gwangju, South Korea).
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Book published electronically
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