- ExhibitionsCurrent ExhibitionsPast Exhibitions
- Wild Carrot
- Raqs Media Collective: The Great Bare Mat & Constellation
- Luisa Lambri: Portrait
- Magic Moments: The Screen and the Eye–9 Artists 9 Projections
- (TAPESTRY) RADIO ON: New Work by Victoria Morton at the Gardner
- Points of View: 20 Years Artists-in-Residence at the Gardner
- Taro Shinoda: Lunar Reflections
- Su-Mei Tse: Floating Memories
- Luisa Rabbia: Travels with Isabella, Travel Scrapbooks 1883/2008
- Cliff Evans: Empyrean
- Stefano Arienti: The Asian Shore
- Sculpture and Memory: Works from the Gardner and by Luigi Ontani
- Henrik Håkansson: Cyanopsitta spixii Case Study #001
- A Pagan Feast
- Variations On a Theme by Sol Lewitt and Paula Robison
- Danijel Zezelj: Stray Dogs
- Maurizio Cannavacciuolo: TV Dinner
- Artist, Curator, Collector
- Episodes: Bus Park & Forevermore
- Manfred Bischoff
- Laura Owens
- New Works by Denise Marika
- Artists By 2009
Zhang Peili (b. 1957 China) is considered one of China's foremost video artists and was the first Chinese artist to create a video art work, back in 1988, when he taped himself washing a chicken, over and over again as an example of the absurdities of modern China. (The chicken has many meanings ranging from the commonplace, to the cosmic, to representing China itself.)His clean, incisive video works are infused with sharp social and political commentaries. They shed light on the cultural norms and social values that shape attitudes of human behavior in societies everywhere while playfully targeting traditional authoritarian roles.
Zhang's videos concentrate on mundane and simple actions. It is a way of engaging viewers into reflecting on the nature and implication of human activity. In many of his works he turns to family members, friendsor random acquaintances.He might film them pronouncing words, scratching of an imagined itch, preening, singing, eating even dancing. Another of his well known pieces, Water: Standard Pronunciation, tapes a former television news broadcaster reading all the words in a Chinese dictionary that start with "water" into the camera like a newscast. The piece was widely viewed as a critique of the official news media in China and how the nation's broadcasters jabber endlessly without saying much, yet the viewer is awash in an ocean of words. Last Words is a remaking of old Chinese patriotic movies.Zhang extracted numerous scenes of communist heroes gasping their last words before dying.These1950s and 1960s revolutionary fictions were once the only entertainment during the Cultural Revolution and almost everyone of these scenes is deeply rooted in the memories of the generation from that time. He then assembled the extractions into a loop of 15 minutes.
Zhang Peili graduated from the China Academy of Art, Hangzhou in 1984. He has had solo exhibitions at Redcat, Los Angeles, Tilton Gallery, New York, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, New Zealand, OCT Contemporary Art Terminal, Shenzhen, China, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Zhang has also been included in shows at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, the Serpentine Gallery, London, Centre Pompidou, Paris, the Venice Biennale, the Queens Museum of Art, New York, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Zhang is the founding dean and professor of the New Media Department at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou. In 2008 he was asked by the Sichuan province to organize the new Di-Jiang-Yen Museum. Zhang Peili lives and works in Hangzhou.
Zhang Peili spent the month of August, the same time as the 2008 Olympics opened in Beijing, at the Gardner Museum. Zhang spent much of his time exploring the museum collection, editing a survey book of his work and investigating the inner workings of Western museums. He was particularly interested in exploring the Museum’s place in the social hierarchy, the social use of the Museum, and the Museum as a backdrop or setting for interaction and discussion. In the Artist-in-Residence apartment, Zhang conducted a series of two hour individual interviews with eleven members of the museum staff and volunteers. He was assisted in translation by a student from Hong Kong who was doing an internship at MIT. Each interview was crafted for the individual person and video taped the artist. He thought it would be interesting to accumulate new ideas while he was in Boston and see if these ideas might blossom when he returned to China.
Zhang Peili continued his research outside of the Gardner Museum walls. He spoke to artists, curators, museum visitors, art professors, museum directors, and others involved in the Arts Community. Zhang was invited to tour Massachusetts College of Art's SIM department with department head Dana Moser and Denise Marika, a teacher and one of the first Gardner Artist-in-Residence. He met and toured the Peabody Essex Museum with the director and curators as well as went to MIT to visit several landmark buildings and artists' installations with Jane Farver, Director of the List Visual Arts Center. Farver was scheduled to travel to China in the fall and on this trip visited Zhang and spoke at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou.
Zhang returned in the spring of 2009 to talk to about his work, with Karen Oen from the PhD program at MIT, Jane Farver, and curator Pieranna Cavalchini. Since 2007 he had been taking a close look at the fragility of our modern lives and at the instability of the middle-class dream in his country. In April 2008, Zhang built a middle-class indoor environment in a warehouse in Beijing and then demolished it artificially. At the same time, he shot the process of making the ruin which he showed during the discussion