Of a Puzzled Europe, Ni Haifeng, 2004, 7000 pieces of jigsaw puzzles, string, sound, loudspeaker, vidoe, LCD monitor, installation at Museum het Domein, The Netherlands, 2004
Of a puzzled Europe (project proposal)

In an in-between space conjoining the 'front part' and the 'back part' of Museum het Domein, about 5000 pieces of jigsaw puzzles (of Europe) are hanging from the ceiling tied with thin strings in a dense row forming a curtain. The viewer has to bump into the screen in order to 'enter' or 'exit'. Thus the museum is spatially conceptualized as a differentiated topography, in the middle of which lies a 'demarcation' that simultaneously connects and separates 'both sides'. The demarcation is a thin line of 'the puzzled Europe'.
In the context of the exhibition itself the viewer, who passes The Face, Washing Hands, The Mirrored Double - passes the intense xeno-presence, arriving at the demarcation, is confronted by a 'shattered Europe' through which he/she 'enters', so to speak, the 'back side' or the 'Euro-domain'. The viewer goes on and is soon confronted by a wall of Western knowledge with Xeno-Writings on its back.
On the walls of both sides of the demarcation, there are two series of tiny loudspeakers mounted as a continuous line through the demarcation, respectively playing 'Euro-sonics' and 'xeno-sonics'. The sounds emanating from the tiny loudspeakers are extremely faint, perhaps barely audible when the environment is quite. The sounds are, as both names suggest, the recordings of life scenes, conversations and news broadcastings made both 'here' and 'elsewhere'. They are edited as 'life noises' - 'Euro-noises and 'xeno-noises'.
Right at the demarcation line, above the screen there are two motion-detection sensors that dictate which sound to play, according to the direction the viewer takes. When the viewer comes from the 'xeno-zone', it is the Euro-sonics that will be played, right at the moment when he/she hits the curtain. And vise versa.

Europe has always been a mythical concept, an 'imagined community', to borrow Benedict Anderson's term, that is a product of modern age and that has only flimsiest claim to common decent. Within this imagined community, the members have to have a sense of other peoples who may be inferior but must be recognized as human. Such is the basis on which 'Europe' is constructed: it simultaneously mythologizes itself and mystifies 'the rest'.
In modern history Europe has been the greatest divide between the West and the non-West, a boundary that makes the difference between inside and outside. Today it stands as a paradox between so called European project that is to homogenize itself as a unified community and its increasingly patched political geography; a paradox between the homogeneous Euro-imaginary and the heterogeneity of European urban life that is marked by cross-cultural influences and hybridity. The work should be contemplated in the context of the current political climate in Europe as well as the condition of globalization in the world, in the context of a dialectic movement in which the boundaries of nation-states are disappearing and in which invisible boundaries are emerging on various levels and in various locals of the globe.

In a Borgesian sense, Europe is, the "imperial map' that dictates the real territory, a construct fixed upon the 'shifting landmass'. In this light, my aim is to provoke a sardonic laugh at the representation of a place, at the artificiality of a cultural construct, by offering the viewer a curtain to bump into. For all of 'us' within Europe, we are provided a screen of a 'puzzled Europe' or a 'shattered Europe' to see, to feel and to traverse. If once the "Iron Curtain' guarded the free 'world', it is now ' the curtain of jigsaw puzzles' - a porous border that un-guards 'here' form 'there'.

Ni Haifeng, 2004

Of a Puzzled Europe, Ni Haifeng, 2004, 7000 pieces of jigsaw puzzles, string, sound, loudspeaker, video, LCD monitor, detail view