Zhao Zhao - Desert Camel
by Jérôme Sans
Exhibition catalogue of Zhao Zaho, Desert Camel
© Tang Contemporary Art, 2017
Pagination: 125 pages
In 2015, when Zhao Zhao was conceptualizing Taklamakan Project, he attempted to move the cable for the piece using the ancient method of the camel. However, because of the complexity and difficulty of implementing the project, Zhao Zhao ended up selecting a more modern method. In this exhibition, this camel will live for ten days in a modern environment, and the historical information and current symbols that the camel represents will create a distinctive landscape in the space. The camel is like a living fossil, providing the artist and the exhibition with an entirely new visual aesthetic and real meaning, and because of its circumstances, the camel becomes the starting point and the form of this exhibition.
Zhao Zhao’s Fragments series has appeared often in his previous presentations, and Desert is a continuation of this concept. A 3x5-meter fragment comprised of steel and copper plates with curving, spreading edges create the outline of an undulating desert, linking copper fragments from past civilizations with the steel of modern industry. Desert is the most important part of this exhibition; it is a re-evaluation of Taklamakan Project, but it is also a real reference point for Camel and the historical background for the exhibition.
When the intense visual forms of Desert and Camel appear in the same time and space, Zhao Zhao purposely treats them as two fragmentary glimpses of another reality: an artist who is always beginning a new journey, the “Western Regions” and Central Asia, the Silk Road, fifteenth-century colonizers, Zhao Zhao’s parents, and Zhao Zhao’s two long journeys into the Taklamakan Desert. However, this is also a reverse consideration of the reality in which we live; behind the narrative and visual feeling, an aesthetic that pierces through these two fragmentary glimpses can reveal the realities that are taking place behind the metaphor.