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Children's Clothes XL - Zhang Weixing Shadow Image Exhibition
by Ofoto Gallery
Location: Ofoto Gallery
Artist(s): Weixing ZHANG
Date: 2 Mar - 5 Apr 2013

A set of girl’s used clothes, with lovely shapes, has been gradually developed into a trace of growth and rebellion. Like the cicada skin, it grows up through many times of struggle and relief, becoming the guiding drug to cure certain diseases. Memory narration, nostalgia narration, girls’ narration, time narration…these narration motifs, presented with oversized and adult-style clothes, construct a kind of silent multiple emotions. In imagination, those who have worn these clothes are more and more conscious of the gender, enter the demi-gods period of marriageable age and finally become the second sex under Simone de Beauvoir’s philosophy. As a father, Zhang Weixing caresses, the preexistent lover, his daughter’s growing silhouette by his sight. Complicated emotions inspire and evolve into another creative motivation.

The famous German philosopher Ernst Cassirer defines human as ‘symbolic animal’. He says in An Essay on Man: “We actually found that human has a special relation thinking that doesn’t exist in animal world. Human has developed an ability to distinguish different relations - an ability to consider these relations in an abstract level. To master such an abstraction, human can no longer rely on specific materials…but consider these ‘relations’ themselves.” The “relations themselves” Cassireris mentions are the symbols. If identifying with this theory, we shall say that Zhang Weixing is trying to accomplish the symbol communication through the girls’ clothes. Apparently, after years of trial and practice, the skilled shadow image technique allows Zhang Weixing to express himself more freely and sufficiently. Even his expressing space extends from two-dimension to three-dimension, from plane shadow image to 3D ceramic installation; but the concept of time rheology is tengible from the object itself. As the clothes sizes increase and the image sizes develop from 50 x 60 cm to 100 x 130 cm, the technical difficulty and complexity even involve the updating of all the darkroom facilities - bigger darkroom space, temperature control of the room, emulsions and water, sizes of tanks and paper manipulating during the process of washing and flatting. However, these easily ignored efforts and neglected details make the audience lose some symbol expressions and cause misleading. The exquisite illusion in the subjective world is unconsciously transformed to a shear visual watching for the audience.

The artist’s valuable sensitivity lies in the enlightenment from the ordinary to the extraordinary through persistent capturing, imaging and purifying. Black and white, light and shadow, the middle field between the two extremes is filled up with confused and disordered dark gray, which is increasingly weakening, transforming and changing the quality and nature of the clothes. Through light-illusive and eclosion the clothes turn transparent and thin like cicada’s wings, so light that they become weightless, hiding in infinite chaos. Finally they are stagnated, still framed and frozen, still at the instants of the time rheology. Though selective viewing, people will feel some speakable or unspeakable senses, which may not completely match the artist’s intention, even over it or toward the opposite direction. It is certainly the most ideal artistic effect. In The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche applies the symbols of Apollo and Dionysus to explain the origin, essence and function of art, and even the meaning of life. The bright Apollo gives everything a beautiful look but the essence is an illusion by human being. The appearance of Zhang Weixing’s works obviously belongs to the Apollo art and the illusive images have an irrational side; while Dionysus stands for emotional indulgence and Dionysus art is kind of deep metaphysical and tragic. In a sense, Zhang Weixing is trying to reach his symbolic destination in an anti-utopia and disenchanting way, which is exactly the existentialism that people dislike, criticize and even resist. The nature of existentialism is also pessimistic, which is the context avoided and excluded deliberately by this weird age of collective carnival, in which, people would rather entertain to death and get rid of confusion and nihility.

It is worthwhile to note that if we only regard the works as individual emotional expression but ignore the clothes as symbol carrier, we will definitely lose another thinking created by the works themselves. But the key to the problem is whether we would abandon some shear formulated recognition of clothes. The metaphysical thinking of clothes philosophy can completely give more signifier, signified and means. Here, I would like to provide a reference, citing a short paragraph from French Nobel Literature Prize winner Anatole France: If I could choose books to read, after 100 years death, I would choose, instead of documentary literature, novel or prose, a women fashion magazine…… which tells more than any sociologist, historian and economist.

If the children’s clothes subject is carried on, it can break through the time rheology not only because everyone is a child inside but also because there could be infinite X added before L.

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