Qiu Zhijie Railway from Lhasa to Kathmandu 2007

Qiu Zhijie
Railway from Lhasa to Kathmandu 2007
Video and mixed media installation
© Qiu Zhijie

Qiu Zhijie’s work reconciles traditional Chinese aesthetics and contemporary expression to create works of international relevance. Provocative and articulate, he is as much art critic, philosopher, social historian, and curator as visual artist. His works encompass painting, calligraphy, video, installation and performance.

The work is an homage to Nain Singh, a 33 year-old Indian man who, in 1863, was given the task of journeying across Tibet in carefully measured 33 inch strides, to accurately map the territory as part of the British Survey. Qiu Zhijie walks the route in the opposite direction following exactly the same protocols as Nain. Along the way, he asks for metal objects which he then melts down to forge the iron rail, in recognition of the opening, in 2006, of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway along the same route. Qiu Zhijie states, ‘nothing the British could have done back then, nor even the imposition of Chinese sovereignty (in 1959), will have as much impact upon Tibet and the traditional way of life.’