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Zhao Bandi

Author: Huang Du 1998-09-18

On 1 July, 1997, China resumed its sovereignty over Hong Kong. On the same day, Zhao Bandi, an artist from Beijing, brought twenty-five cubic centimeters of earth from the neighbourhood of the Ming and planted it in a dug hole at Docklands, London. On 5 July, Zhao brought some earth excavated from Docklands and planted it in the hole in Beijing. Through this activity, Zhao realized his artistic programme of Exchange of 25 x 25 x 25 cm of Earth between China and Britain, Beijing and London.

According to the ancient Chinese classic On Essays, "Earth is a live creature of the Earth". Zhao can be said to have applied an artistic scalpel in his transplantation of earth, a cultural symbol, in order to satirise both notions of history and reality. His discourse is an exploration, with new art practice, of concepts such as territorial politics and economics. No one denies that a nation's territory is not necessarily exchangeable. However, Zhao invokes a utopian enthusiasm as he suggests an ideal world exceeding the limits of country, race, class, difference and mixed culture. This cross-boundary internationalism touches upon sensitive problems, such as the very concept of "country", its culture and law.

In 1996, Zhao completed Zhao Bandi and Zhang Qianqian, a calendar which realizes and represents the relationship between art and the people. Because printed calendars have to be approved by Chinese officials before publication for the popular market, Zhao reworks this artistic form. His point of reference is the popular Chinese spring-festival painting which expresses "happiness and prosperity". The artist himself, with a fashion model and panda at his chest, constructs a typical family unit in which the panda symbolizes the only child. The flower wreath presents a pastoral contrast between men working in the field and women doing embroidery at home. It also threatens instability and crisis. Presenting the modern family with such ultra-realism highlights their use as political symbol, as an idealization of daily life and human psychology.


From "Every Day", by Jonathan Watkins, pulished by the Biennale of Sydney Ltd., Page 234  

Related Artists:
ZHAO BANDI 赵半狄

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