Zhang Qing

30 May - 21 Jun 2009

Exhibition view
"Don’t Go So Fast"

Curator: Philip Tinari

Opening: Saturday 30 May 2009 at 4pm
Date: May 30 – June 21, 2009

Shanghart Beijing is pleased to present the latest work of Shanghai-based artist Zhang Qing. Entitled Don’t Go So Fast, the exhibition presents a cycle of photographic and video works set in the mud cave-homes of Shaanxi province, one of China’s poorest provinces. These images depict a group of attractive young professionals, wearing the signature name-brand uniform of the urban upwardly mobile, as they inhabit the signature ramshackle spaces of China’s far interior. Despite their incongruous surroundings, Zhang’s subjects carry themselves as if they had never left Shanghai’s Xujiahui or Beijing’s CBD, frenetically pacing in and out of humble homes as if these buildings were the gleaming office towers of the coastal cities. Their actions play out not only against the backdrop of these rural surroundings, but also against a series of outlined images of developed splendor which the artist has scrupulously chalked onto the interior and exterior walls of the village dwellings. Here, a young woman applies lipstick, sitting on a fire-heated kang with an image of a canopy bed from Dubai’s most luxurious hotel behind her; there, the assembled group stands between a pile of corn stalks and a peasant home across which runs a drawing of the Pudong skyline.

Don’t Go So Fast weaves images still and moving into an extended reflection on the disparities of China’s development and the technologies of control which make that development possible. At the heart of the project lies a nine-screen television wall, showing a rolling loop of footage shot by static surveillance cameras placed around the village. Unlike in his posed still photographs, here Zhang Qing abandons control over his lens in favor of an omniscient, "neutral" perspective identical to the one taken by the thousands of security cameras that audit life in cities around the world each day. The cameras’ grainy remove from their subjects, along with the resolute stillness of their angles, belies the intricacy with which the artist has scripted the actions which they record. Installed in configurations that mirror the architectural layouts of the spaces in which it was shot, the works manage to drive home to the gallery-going audience the disparity between these two basic poles of contemporary China.

This expansive photographic and video project continues a turn toward the filmic—and a bending of the line between fiction and reality—that first emerged last year in Zhang Qing’s video installation Don’t be Cruel. For that piece, Zhang tracked down individuals he remembered for having given him dirty looks during his childhood, and subsequently layered his intricately crafted moving portraits of these individuals flashing their "mean" expressions over his own voiced recollections of the incidents that led to such displeasure, or perceived displeasure. In this exhibition, Zhang pushes this investigation further, choreographing the movements of a team of actors in a spectacle that courts realism even as it defies reality.

Zhang Qing, born 1977 in Changzhou, Jiangsu province, has been a key, if underappreciated, voice in Shanghai’s experimental art scene for nearly a decade. After an undergraduate training in architecture, he participated in a number of the key alternative exhibitions of the millennial moment, including Home? (Shanghai, 1999), Parabola (Chengdu, 2002), and It’s All Right (Hangzhou, 2006). His first solo exhibition, Frame, was mounted in 2007 at Shanghai’s BizArt Center.

Tags: Li Qing, Lu Qing, Zhang Qing, O Zhang