Dinu Li : Family Village

Dinu Li Family Village

Dinu Li Family Village 2009
single channel DVD installation with sound

25 September - 25 October 2009

Using language as the starting point for a trilogy of films Dinu Li researched the literal meaning of the word ‘country’ in Chinese. He discovered three meanings: ‘Ancestral Nation’, ‘Family Village’ and ‘Nation Family’. These meanings have inspired and become the titles for the trilogy. Shaped by forces that determine social structures, Li draws inspiration from an engagement with the many cultures he encounters. Pivotal concerns within his work include a fascination with where culture comes from, how it is manifested, and formed within the everyday.
Dinu Li’s Family Village is the second in the trilogy and explores cultural developments in contemporary China. The film explores ideas of cultural exchange, Diaspora and the poetics of linking the past and present through three pivotal elements. The first element is an article from 2005 that Li came across describing a series of events caused when a town planner innocently sent a Christmas card from Dorset to Sichuan Province in China. The card with its depiction of an idyllic English village, replete with traditional English architectural details gave birth to the urban development named ‘British Town’ in Sichuan Province. The second element is an illustrated Chinese Boy taken from a 1950’s propaganda comic, in Li’s film this boy, copied from the original with faithful care, now no longer looking for the Japanese enemy, tranquilly watches the changes that unfold within his village. The third element is the film’s sound, a strangely seductive, all encompassing chant made from the voices of Chinese pupils sent to a British boarding school. Li asked them to make a repetitive rhythm from Pure Imagination, the principle song in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
The film’s potent and symbolic imagery, constructed through the seamless combination of drawings, photography, archival imagery, animation and film, draws the viewer into an atmospheric world of imagined fictions and documented political histories.
Informed by cinematic tradition the first film in Li’s trilogy Ancestral Nation was made during a research trip to China in 2005. There he filmed two very different prevalent rituals that both involve thousands of people: crowds during a daily commute and a festival celebrating the birthday of Confucius. The work highlights the passing of time by drawing together China’s expanding industrial present and the traditions of its cultural past.
Li’s final film in the trilogy, Nation Family, is to be made in the near future.

Born in Hong Kong, Dinu Li is a UK based artist living in Manchester.
Li has exhibited his work internationally, with recent shows including: the 3rd Bucharest Biennale; Museumsnacht in St Gallen, Switzerland; Rivington Place in London; Space in London; Cornerhouse in Manchester; University of North Texas Art Gallery; Kulturbunker Cologne; Victoria & Albert Museum London; Contact Photo Fest 05 Toronto; White Space 798 Beijing and the Liverpool Biennale 04.
He is a freelance curator and artistic programmer of numerous projects including the Look 07 Photo Review in Manchester and Make It a Better Place, a group exhibition touring across the UK. His work is reviewed in several catalogues and magazines such as Portfolio, Next Level, Tema Celeste, Ryuko Tsushin, and is featured in Thames and Hudson’s The Photograph as Contemporary Art. In 2007,
Li published a major monograph of his work The Mother of All Journeys. It was short listed for the Contemporary Book Award at the 2007 Rencontres d’Arles Awards and was placed amongst the Best Photography Books for 2007 by The Sunday Times. He is the recipient of many national awards and commissions, and has undertaken residencies in China, Kazakhstan and the USA, and most recently at ArtSway, UK. In addition, Li guest lectures at universities across the UK and has participated in numerous debates and symposiums including Tate Modern, The British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Li has most recently exhibited at Artsway’s New Forest Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale.

Family Village was co-commissioned by ArtSway and The Arts University College Bournemouth. Dinu Li is an ArtSway Associate (supported by The Leverhulme Trust).
The Arts University College Bournemouth            Artsway         Leverhulme Trust