It is another river that I seek

Menghua Wu

Keywords: Dynamic identity, Dismissed history,

I grew up on the Hulunbuir grasslands, one of the largest prairies in the world. My hometown is markedly flat and provides virtually endless views of its lush greenery in summer and the snow in winter. 

From 1917 until now, Hulunbuir has altered its own political identity 5 times due to World War II and the Chinese Civil War. Today more than 40 ethnic minorities including Mongolian, Russian, Daur, together with Han Chinese co-inhabit this area.

A significant historical landmark in Hulunbuir’s history are the Battles of Khalkhin Gol which were named after the river Khalkhin. These battles were the decisive engagements of the Soviet–Japanese border conflicts fought among the Soviet Union, Mongolia, Japan and China in 1939. While these engagements are little known in the West, they played an important part in subsequent Japanese conduct in World War II. Because of the failure of these battles, Japan's focus was ultimately directed to the Dutch East Indies, leading to its decision to launch the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th of that year. 

This part of history is rarely mentioned in dominant historical narratives. Subsequent events after World War II have so distorted the memory of our early days, that now they are impossible to put straight. 

Starting from this blind spot in history, I created a series of paintings/drawings stretching backwards to the past and rewriting the dismissed pre/history of my hometown. They will be exhibited in two separated locations:  

Part 1: Synthetic Me and Part 2: Synthetic Deities

At the forefront of cultural conversation is the hot topic of decolonization. My work is asking; Can we really decolonize the past? Is there any pure-blooded fossil identity that we can actually return to? or are those indigenous cultures and identities lost and forever gone. 

Wumen ghua, Mongolian born in Hulunbuir, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China.

My practice consists of using painting and installation to explore topics of multiple histories, dynamic identity and nature-human relationship.

My paintings are normally synthesised by historical images with personal fantasy to create an observer dependent history.

Norming and deforming of figures naturally emerge as experimental elements from my painting process, suggesting the possibility of a dynamic human existence, and enabling elements of human identity to be influenced by the external physical and internal metaphysical conditions.

Deity of Inclusiveness, 50x70 cm, oil and pastel on Belgium linen



In the Anthropogenic time, I want to tell a story of multi- species self making and world making. A story about how human cultural identity and history are actually multi-species determined. A story intended to explore and answer the question that why we must care about species equality, why we due to share a common destiny with Other-than-Human and how we embrace an enlarged-multi-species-self to move on.