Danning Niu
Design Portfolio

Musing on Nostalgia

Gouache and indian ink on stonehenge

Through this painting, I explored ‘nostalgia’ as an affect that belongs not only to the participants of a specific memory but also those who experience it retrospectively. Meanwhile, for the outsiders of memory, the disillusionment from nostalgia, the realization of the nonexistent past can potentially become a threat to one’s present identity. The drawing is based on my journey back to China last spring and depicts the rapeseed terrace fields in Wuyuan, located in the Jiangxi Province.

Despite my intellectual registration of the beauty of the panoramic landscape, I felt emotionally unmoved and detached upon the visit. The ink-wash thus embodies my inherent fear and bewilderment at the disconnection from the culture which I was raised in and thought I had an inherent connection to as well as the wistful aspiration of reclaiming my heritage. Living all my life in the city, my personal incapability to comprehend or appreciate the return also reflects the ultimate discrepancy between the lives of the urban and the rural in contemporary China. Within a nation industrialization, capitalization, and urbanization, it occurred to me that there is probably no return to the past.