July 18th through August 23rd, 2015
Opening reception: Saturday, July 18th, 4-7pm
The first solo exhibition of Hong Kong-based artist Zheng Bo in Shanghai, “Weed Party” is the third project on plants and socio-politics of the artist, which follows the critically acclaimed presentations “Plants Living in Shanghai”—a found botanical garden of weeds and a series of online public lectures about plants and Shanghai—Zheng Bo produced for the first West Bund Architecture and Contemporary Art Biennale (curated by Gao Shiming of China Academy of Art, 2013) and “Plants Occupy Shenzhen”—an audio tour—for the 8th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale (curated by Marko Daniel, of Tate Modern, 2014).
This solo exhibition steers its focus and centers narratives on weeds—or a variety of wild plants growing where they are not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants—to further probe their histories, visual representation and significance in China’s modernization and their relationship with the growth and transformation of Shanghai.
Works on view are artist’s discoveries made throughout his intensive research and fortuitous wanders in Shanghai. “Left Right (106 Rue Wantz)”, a video diptych visualizes the artist’s strolling along streets in Shanghai’s former French concession, showcasing the expansion of planes trees in the city dating back to the early 1920s—the first congress of Chinese Communist Party was held in 1921—to the present when the area is being reinvigorated into a new hub of commerce and cultures.
The exhibition’s highlights include two ambitious site-specific installations that transport viewers to dilapidated factories and gardens to look for hints of wilderness in this megacity. “Garden (Lane 62 Zhaojiabang Road)” restaged a wall and surrounding of an abandoned factory with robust weeds and layers of posters. “Weed Party” created a small retreat on the top floor where viewers will be able to sit for a moment amidst horseweed, an “invasive” species easily spotted throughout Eastern China. Native to North America, horseweed was first discovered in Shandong in 1860. Viewers will be asked to ponder whether they, like the artist, should join the Weed Party, a multitude of the past and the future.
Large format color photographs in the show re-contextualizes weeds in the urban and cultural landscape of Shanghai. “Dream (Xuhui, Shanghai)” captures the complex dynamic between China Dream posters decorating many exterior walls of construction sites, and weeds growing in these temporarily un-landscaped urban zones. “Besiege (Shanghai Art Museum)” and “Vanguard (West Bund)”, feature weeds occupying the interstitial time and space of these art institutions in transition. A paper mulberry, considered a “pioneer” plant by botanists, is found growing vigorously on West Bund, in front of the giant mixing plant of the old Shanghai Cement Factory, which, reclaimed as a contemporary art venue two years ago, has since been abandoned again. “Homo sapiens may finally come to respect the vanguardism of weeds, which have always tried to pull us into a rewilded future.” Zheng commented.
Also on view is a curated selection of everyday objects, artist book, printed matters and works by other artists from the 20th century, highlighting plants hitherto considered unconnected to the revolutionary cause and the everyday life.
Zheng Bo (1974, Beijing) grew up in China and studied in the United States. His socially engaged art projects have been featured in many museum exhibitions. His works are in the public collections of Hong Kong Museum of Art, Guangdong Museum of Art, and Singapore Art Museum. He joined the faculty of China Academy of Art in 2010 and moved to City University of Hong Kong’s School of Creative Media in 2013.
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