Lyu: I have carefully and repeatedly read the original work of Song of Survivors. The creative inspiration and the images of the sculpture kept popping up in my mind. I told my idea to Bei La excitedly. To my surprise, our views on the work coincided closely with each other, and we decided to create the composition of the sculpture to show the moving scene of the Medavoy family leaving Shanghai and freeze the touching moment – they boarded the ship, reluctantly bidding farewell to Shanghai with tears.
If you ask me why the sculpture depicts scene of the Medavoy family bidding farewell to Shanghai rather than those of their arriving in Shanghai or their life in Shanghai, I’d like to say that the scene of the Medavoys arriving in Shanghai fails to show what happened to the Jews in this city while a certain scene of their life in Shanghai tends to be too detailed, not to mention the difficulty in fully reflecting the life of a family of four. Therefore, the scene of farewell is regarded as the climax and sublimation of the whole story. It reflects the deep friendship between the Medavoys and Shanghai. War and fate forced them to leave Shanghai and fly to America. Parting is temporary and reluctant, which implies that they will return to Shanghai sometime.
When working on Song of Survivors, Bei La visited Dora Medavoy several times in the United States. When Bei was about to leave, Dora, who was over 90 years old, held her hands and said, “Bring me back to Shanghai.” This is Dora and Michael's greatest wish. As a result, I try my best to express the truth of history with the truth of art and to reflect the real life situation of the Jews through the story of the Medavoy family.
Song of Survivors adopts a realistic theme and expresses artistic real scenes in romantic and symbolistic ways, which strengthens the dramatic effect and locality of the work and is conducive to expressing the characters’ inner contradictions and internal tension. I respected the romantic characteristics of the original literary work and gave full play to my own characteristics in sculpture creation at the same time in order to achieve a perfect combination.
In the sculpture Song of Survivors, Michael Medavoy holds his little daughter in his arms and waves his hat to greet his friends. His expression is determined and sad. He has a deep affection for this land where he has made friends with Shanghainese who have given him a hand when he was in need andwhere he has struggled hard. When he left, contradictions and reluctance filled his heart. Dora, the wife and mother of the family, is kind and warm. She puts her right hand on little Mike’s shoulder, comforting him. At the same time, she does not forget to look back with her eyes full of tears and kiss Shanghai goodbye. Mike was only five or six years old and spent his childhood in Shanghai with his playmates here. When his family leaves the city, he was a bit sad, sitting on the pier, holding a teddy bear in a daze. He seems to be praying secretly in his heart that one day he will return to his hometown, Shanghai. Mike’s younger sister is still an oblivious baby. She just imitates her parents and waves her hands enthusiastically.
The sea breeze blows their clothes and hair, highlighting the contrast between the inner stillness and the external dynamic changes within the scene. “Wind” is another metaphor, foreshadowing their hope of pursuing a better life in the future, the victory of the war and the arrival of peace.