The retrospective exhibition of artist Zhang Peili, hailed as a key figure in the histories of Chinese video art, will be held at the Minsheng Art Museum from 16 July to 14 August 2011, gathering and exhibiting 23 works produced between 1988 and the present. Many of these projects are presented in a scholarly institutional context for the first time, offering a comprehensive background to the use of electronic media within contemporary art in China and providing an important window into a practice that has been enormously influential over younger generations of experimental artists.
This exhibition collects work from all of Zhang Peili’s major periods, beginning with the cool and contained painting of the mid-1990s and then moving into the aesthetics of boredom and control in his first video projects, including both 30x30 and Document on Hygiene No. 3 (1991), in which the artist calms and washes a chicken at the center of the frame. Classic works from the 1990s are well-represented, as with Uncertain Pleasure II (1996), in which a hand scratches every corner of a naked body depicted only in fragmentary close shots across 10 channels, and Water: Standard Edition of Cihai (1991), for which a television announcer reads a dictionary entry as if it were the evening news. And thenthere are the appropriation and remix works, as with Last Words (2003), for which Zhang Peili edits together found footage of Cultural Revolution-era propaganda films to create an uninterrupted stream of the dying words of martyrs. In a final section, Zhang Peili’s most recent works, both interactive closed-loop systems like Hard Evidence No. 1 (2009) and theatrical scenes like A Gust of Wind (2008), are shown alongside a new commission.