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10 years ago, Zhao Bandi started to combine his own figure with the panda. During these ten years, Zhao Bandi has popularized his image by using the panda as neutral symbol, and thus has found a large amount of fans. All his efforts were by no means to aim at the designing of his own image, but he rather tries to establish a basis of the individual functioning in the society by such kind of a self-image design. There is no doubt, that Zhao Bandi is very famed for his “social” artwork in the society.

Zhao Bandi’s was born in the mid 60’s; the period of time he was receiving his education, was the era in which the special demand to and necessity of and individual to be a “society screw”– a low-ranking but active person – was raised in Chinese socialism. The awareness of the social existence was burned in everyone’s memory and marked in everyday life, everyone who has experienced that certain era and regions.
Most people, who have lived through the past 20 years of transformation, have arrived at an opposite position to the “society-screw”-attitude. The search for oneself has become one’s instinct and natural choice. Yet Zhao Bandi wanted to establish a new form of relationship between the self intuitive consciousness and the social attributes of an individual. He tried to transform the former “society-screw” role of the individual into the role of a “society-engineer”, which is a mixture of the roles of the government, social organizations, religious groups and others.

In the year 1999, Zhao Bandi’s welfare images in the subway station and carriages of Beijing carried out a welfare educating lesson for the public. “Quit Smoking”, “Prevent AIDS”, “Environmental Protection” and other educating messages were the topics in these ads.
What is most impressive and is most valuable about this welfare campaign is that it was initiated and accomplished by only one individual. Zhao Bandi used this welfare campaign to create a social space for the individual. Within this space the action and function of the individual will be magnified over and over.

Up to now, the most outstanding project is his personal Olympic Games “Bandi’s 2008”. In the year 2005 Zhao Bandi began to carry out this project. He uses the “running” image through China to line up all kinds of symbols from the Chinese culture. This approach, scilicet combining a set of symbols, is usually used in governmental propaganda; this is a typical feature of the governmental language. Zhao Bandi transforms the user of this set of governmental language into an individual person. From such transformation, the individual acquires a new form of energy.
People will realize the existence of a certain new space for the society out of the switch of language users, which turns the contrasts between governmental and individual roles or “democracy” and “dictatorship” into a new relationship, a joint which needs to be defined newly. The Olympic Games is generally an event of the governments, but yet Zhao Bandi eagerly tried to use his own individual method to carry out this project. From Beijing, China to Bern in Switzerland, he put the most individual behavior into a mass event which lives from the participation and common behavior of the collective.

The artwork “Bandi’s 2008” ended in Bern, Switzerland, in form of an opening ceremony of the Olympic Games; Zhao Bandi symbolically puts it into some kind of global background. This indicates that a certain new space has emerged on the global platform. Therefore from this viewpoint, you could say that Zhao Bandi is a kind of political artist, but looking from a different angle you could also consider him as an individual politician.

Zhao Bandi consciously imitates some governmental behaviors. In his works the ethics and morals of the government are turned into those of an individual. This is a totally new type of relationship between the government and an individual; does this imply a prompting towards the government by the individuals? Or does the government need to redefine the ethics and morals of an individual?

Now, the time to ask for the value and the function of the individual in the society has come again. In times like this we must raise the question whether the continuously enlarging individual power will form a new social relationship?

The rapid changes of China’s society releases unrestricted imaginations, Zhao Bandi’s art is an outstanding expression of this unrestricted imagination. In the context of the new global culture this kind of imaginative power needs to be taken seriously.