Hu Xiaoyuan and Liang Shuo will participate in group exhitbion Hong Kong M+ West Kowloon Sigg Prize 2019

2020. 03. 11-2020. 04. 30

Zhang Peili’s “Now That” did not extend the most hospitable greeting

to its viewers. Upon arriving at the gallery, one immediately found

oneself barricaded in an imposing open-roofed structure made of

shiny metal railings, whose doors then opened up to allow passage into

the space. Inside, a dozen new and used mattresses—some leaning

against a wall, others resting on the floor, were scattered about. Lying

down on any of the mattresses, one heard a digitally simulated voice

reading out names. Whose were those names enunciated at five-second 

construction at the entrance, Access Control System, 2018? As it turned

out, the names broadcast in Audible Mattress are those of randomly

selected Chinese Communist Party members, wanted criminals, and

lost children. When asked why he mixed these names together, Zhang

was evasive. He said it was the “uneasiness” of the three groups that

interested him. I’d argue that these groups can be perceived as representing,

respectively, power, its rejection, and lost innocence. If Zhang’s

earlier work Water: Standard Version from the Cihai Dictionary, 1991,

made power concrete by embodying it in the figure of China Central

Television anchor Xing Zhibin, Audible Mattress highlights power’s

insidious and abstract attributes. Access Control System also addresses

its pervasiveness: For those living in China, the railings in this work are

quite common. Their ubiquity makes them feel ordinary, hardly intimidating.

Who are these security doors keeping out—thieves, intruders,

or the neighbors? Have we so deeply internalized the need for protection

that we’ve become each other’s prison guards?

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