Zhang Ding’s work conveys objects and phenomena that are impossible to describe through language alone. Perhaps the essence of these things is too primal, to the extent that language—artificial and pretentious—cannot touch them. Perhaps the system of these things is too complex, and language cannot communicate their complexity.
Substances overcome their physical properties, removing the visual protective screens of their appearance and bestowing upon them a new identity and meaning, mulling over the immortality of their significance. Zhang is always secure in himself, able to completely refuse to reveal the motivations and inspirations of his productions in order to maintain the enchanting mystery of his work. Viewers and critics should be wary, because a moment of recklessness can plunge one into a deep pit of over-analysis, or fundamental misunderstanding.
Created in a New York military warehouse, the structure of this piece is a relatively typical mausoleum. Standing guard at the door are two statues of the planet Venus, metaphorical protectors. In the middle there is the carved-out corner of a pentagram; the way it is cut makes it resemble a diamond. On five canvases on the walls are five corners of the pentagram, and the statue in the middle complements the acute angles of their forms.
A group of small statues encircle a concrete slab on which the phrase “GOLD CAN MOVE THE GOD” is painted in fake gold leaf and silver lacquer. A black hand grasps each of the statues, also made out of gold or silver: a potato, a pill packet, a stone, paper. There is also a black cat, following a golden tunnel formed by the orbit of Venus.
The artist sets up a kitchen to make the signature Chinese dish Buddha Jumps Over The Wall, accompanied by an orchestra and a team of waltzing dancers. On the wall there hang seemingly three-dimensional drawings of a naked woman, a mountain, and a pine tree. In a video recording, an innocent plaster cast of an animal is executed, the gunshots drawing blood, until it finally explodes into a pink mist.
Text by Xiao Ya
Translated by Frank Qian