Duke of Zhou Soil Collection Plan is an independent art project. It started in 2009, when Yuan Gong was asked to take part in an exhibition on a new important archaeological discovery in Shaanxi Province: the Duke of Zhou temple, dating from 3000 years ago and gathering more than 6000 invaluable objects. Surprising all his peers, the artist planned to collect the soil dug from the excavations. The Duke of Zhou Soil Collection Plan includes “10 m³ of Duke of Zhou Soil” displayed at the Guangzhou Triennial held in the Guangdong Museum of Art on Jan. 17, 2012 and “1g of Duke of Zhou Soil” exhibited at the business and art space of Shanghai Bund18 on Aug. 15, 2013. This date was also the opening exhibition of another part of this plan entitled “Butterflies Fly Once More”. In this artwork, the Duke of Zhou soil is completing its rich and ever-changing social intervention system. The artist clearly affirms his changes of attitude and working process by applying this material directly to his works. The Duke of Zhou soil is no longer an artwork by itself; it is also a medium expressing the artist’s concerns and independence. Since its excavation, the Duke of Zhou Soil has turned into a contemporary art material, connecting the past memory and the reflection on the current social reality.
Note: Jade Cong is one of the most important sacrificial vessels in ancient China, it is a tube with a circular inner section and squarish outer section. Jade Cong was first found during the third phase of Xuejiagang culture in Anhui province, Qianshan county more than 5100 years ago. The biggest, most refined prehistoric Jade Cong with beautiful ornamentation is also called a “Jade Cong King”.