Photo of the Day: Grave Matters in the Arts


This week’s photo theme is, well, it’s death. Not because we’re trying to be overly morbid, but because Thursday 5 April was Qingming Festival in China, a day where families traditionally tend to the graves of their ancestors and an occasion often referred to as “Tomb Sweeping Day”.

Ruminations on mortality aren’t hard to come by in the arts. Following the passing of Qingming Festival earlier this week, here are three fascinating Chinese works looking at themes of death to close out our Photo of the Day theme this week, and provide a little reading for your Sunday:

A touching film from Li Ruijin about an elderly man obsessed with what will happen to his body once he dies:

‘Fly With the Crane’: Li Ruijin’s Colorful Meditation on Death

Liu Cixin’s China 2185, which preceded his groundbreaking science fiction novel The Three-Body Problem, and which is examined in detail in this e-flux post from Xin Wang:

In February 1989, the year the World Wide Web was born, Liu Cixin—author of the widely celebrated space opera Three Body Trilogy (2006–10)—published his debut sci-fi novel, China 2185. The story fast-forwards to a future Chinese society burdened by an aging population largely kept alive mechanically. A new president—a twenty-nine-year-old woman who was recently divorced and lost custody of her child—has just been inaugurated and is immediately challenged by a curious series of events that quickly snowball into a national crisis: Mao and five other deceased Chinese citizens are accidentally “revived” as digital immortals, and soon begin to haunt and compromise the nation’s cyberspace — one of the territories most crucial to its sovereignty.

And Shanghainese post-internet generation artist Lu Yang’s typically bold and brash look at the afterlife, Encephalon Heaven:

Mindful Indulgence: Lu Yang’s Art as Spiritual Entertainment

Jake Newby
Jake Newby is a Shanghai-based writer and editor with more than a decade's experience living and working in China. Previously managing editor of RADII and Time Out Shanghai, he's also written for the Associated Press, The Wire, the Financial Times and more.
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