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Postcards series

Artwork Profile Author: Hu Jieming 2004

This is a set of digital photographic works, inspired by Chinese landmarks, which are most representative in postcards themed on resorts in China. This set consists of 8 photographs, including the Gate of the Heavenly Palace, the Great Wall, Zhongnanhai, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the Winter Palace, torii in Yonghe Gong Temple and the Temple Tower. These buildings and resorts are symbols of the politics, culture and history in China, as well as the forbidden zone for common Chinese citizens for thousands of years. Through the use of a computer, the artist "binds" the symbols of daily life in the recent economic development in China, such as outdoor advertisements, merchandise display and quickly changing TV images, onto these landmarks and thus creates a set of more realistic images. That is, the nearly 20 years of political and economic system reform in China has made some fundamental changes here, from the inside to the outside. The philosophy of economic growth and advanced consumption washes and changes old things. Like the landmarks in the pictures, China has changed, except for the outline. It is the picture of a certain historic period in China.


Zhongnanhai

Located in Beijing, the capital of China, Zhongnanhai and North Sea construct the Three Lakes in Western Garden, also known as Taiye Pool. The Three Lakes in Western Garden is a historical royal garden. Since the Qing Dynasty, the Middle Lake, constructed in Liao and Jin dynasties, and the South Lake, created in the Ming Dynasty, had been listed as the forbidden garden for royalty. During Kangxi's throne, Zhongnanhai became the political center of the Qing Dynasty. From then on, Zhongnanhai has always been the location of the highest authority in China.


The Forbidden City

Located in the center of Beijing City, the Forbidden City is the royal palace in the Ming and Qing dynasties. 14 emperors in the Ming Dynasty and 10 in the Qing Dynasty have lived here, ruling China for 491 years. The Forbidden City is the largest existing palace group in China, as well as the greatest in the world.

Why it is called Forbidden City? Because in the past, citizens were forbidden to get close to the palace of the emperor. With a high wall surrounding the palaces, this well-guarded place was the private and royal zone of the emperors in the Ming and Qing dynasties.

The Forbidden City was initially constructed in 1406, the 4th year of Yongle in the Ming Dynasty, and was completed after 15 years. Up until now, it has a history of over 570 years.

Today, the Forbidden City is the location of Forbidden City Museum, one of the largest museums in China.


The Great Wall

The Great Wall in China is the national military defense project in cold steel age, with the longest construction period and the greatest workload in the world, representing the hardwork and wisdom of our ancestors. It is the symbol and pride of Chinese nationality, implying the traditional and the ethical spirit of Chinese.


The Gate of the Heavenly Palace

The Gate of the Heavenly Palace is the symbol of the People's Republic of China. Here, Chairman Mao personally raised the first Five-Starred Red Flag and announced the establishment of New China.

The Gate of the Heavenly Palace used to be the main gate of the royal city in the Ming and Qing dynasties. It was constructed in 1417, the 15th year of Yongle in Ming Dynasty, originally named as Chengtian Gate, which means "bearing the empowerment of heaven". In 1651, the 8th year of Shunzhi in the Qing Dynasty, it was reconstructed and renamed as the Gate of the Heavenly Palace, representing "heavenly order" and "national peace". The Gate of the Heavenly Palace was the important place of "Announcement by the Golden Phoenix". In cases of national celebration, new emperor's enthronement, royal marriages and the queen's determination, the royal family would hold an announcement ceremony here.


The Winter Palace

The Winter Palace is the overall title of Yuanming Garden, Wanchun Garden and Changchun Garden. Initially constructed in 1709, it was completed after 150 years. The Qing Dynasty collected many materials, resources and skillful craftsmen, filled up the lakes, piled up the mountains, planted many rare and precious plantings, duplicated 40 domestic and international resorts and constructed 145 large buildings, which contained numerous artistic treasures, books and antiques. Among these buildings, in addition to the Chinese-style gardens and yards, there were also western-style building groups in Changchun Garden, including Haiyan Hall and Yuanying Temple. Therefore, it was honored as "the Garden of a Thousand Gardens".

Unfortunately, this masterpiece of garden art in the world was rudely destroyed by the combined armies of Britain and France in late October of 1860, the 10th year of Xianfeng. According to the history records, after the valuable collections in the garden were rifled, the British and French armies burnt this unique garden. The fire in the Winter Palace lasted for three days……. The Winter Palace tells us about the honors and shame of this well-known garden, reminding us of "China's renovation" and our "national shame".


The Temple of Heaven

The buildings of the Temple of Heaven are gorgeous and luxurious. In our ancestors' imagination, it is the closest place to heaven, and thus was the sacrificial place for emperors in the Ming and Qing dynasties.


Torii in Yonghe Gong Temple

Yonghe Gong Temple used to the prince's mansion constructed by Kangxi, the second emperor of the Qing Dynasty, for Yun Zhen, his fourth son. Since Yun Zhen was borne by a maid-in-waiting, he didn't dare waste time during the construction. In 1708, the 48th year of Kangxi, after Yun Zhen was honored as Prime Prince, he proposed to advance three years of his compensation and started the great project, which was the Young Prince's Mansion. After the people's government was established in China, the government paid a lot attention to Yonghe Gong Temple. During the Cultural Revolution, Yonghe Gong Temple and White Cloud Temple were the two best preserved temples in Beijing.


Temple Tower

Located in Beita Park, the Temple Tower is commonly known as Bao'en Temple. This Chinese-style Buddhist Tower is honored as the "First Ancient Temple in the Wu Region". Initially constructed in the age of Three Kingdoms, it was constructed by Sun Quan to reward his mother, thus named as Bao'en Temple Tower.

Some of the buildings in Bao'en Temple, renovated in Ming and Qing dynasties can still be seen around the Tower. In the east, the Buranchen Kwan-yin Hall, known as Nan Wood Kwan-yin Hall, was constructed in the 23rd year of Shaoxing in the South Song Dynasty. The existing buildings were reconstructed in Wanli during the Ming Dynasty and now are the best-preserved Ming buildings. The halls are constructed in double eaves, five columns wide and five rooms deep, with four structures inside. The front corridor is 7M high, with stone eaves columns at the corners and indoor columns in nan wood.


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