Cinematic Re/Play: Bodies in Zhang Peili's Videos

On View February 2–May 6, 2018

ZHANG Peili. Born China, 1957

  • Go Ahead, Go Ahead. 2004 Two-channel video exhibited as single-channel, sound 8:46 min.
  • Actor’s Lines. 2002 Single-channel video, sound 6:03 min.
  • Happiness. 2006 Two-channel video exhibited as single-channel, sound 6:24 min.
  • Last Words. 2003 Single-channel video, sound 5:31 min.

Running time: 30 minutes (4 videos in a loop). Videos courtesy of the artist.

“I attempt to confuse dreams, memory, and reality. I attempt to prove that there are many unrelated things in the world that can be mixed together, and in fact they are -- intentionally or accidentally -- being mixed together every day.” -- Zhang Peili, born 1957

In 1988, Zhang Peili became the first Chinese artist to formally present a video as a work of art. He uses editing as his primary artistic method, manipulating existing material to create new meaning. This collection of videos remixes revolution-themed films from the Mao era (1949-1976). These films served a political and didactic purpose and were characterized by a moralizing approach that sought to reinforce the values of the Chinese Communist Party.

Zhang splices and rearranges scenes, audio, and cinematic tropes, creating a sense of absurdity that subverts the intent of the original films. In revisiting the films of his childhood, the artist uses personal and cultural memory as material: he employs the ideology and sentiment attached to the original films to create new objects with their own possibilities for understanding and further imagining.