Joerg Bader (CPG Director 日内瓦摄影中心主任)
The Art & Public Gallery and the Geneva Photography Centre are presenting two solo exhibitions at the same time and for the first time in Europe: Zhang Wei, an artist born in Shang Luo in 1977 and living in Beijing.
While the Art & Public gallery will focus mainly on photographs from the Big Star series, showing the faces of celebrities such as Jackie Chan or Madonna, the CPG will focus its attention on portraits mainly of heads of state, mostly authoritarian, even dictatorial. The Leaders, as the artist called his series, including Mao, Bush Jr., Kim Jong-il, Gaddafi and Putin, have in common, like the Big Stars, to be compositions - an expression to be taken at face value. They all consist of tiny fragments of portraits that the artist took of people he met on the street and photographed in his studio, then carefully mounted into a single face.
These "popular compositions", that is to say, these portraits made up with the pixilated "flesh" of the people, Chinese in this case, do not have the bitter taste of monuments erected to the glory of dictators by prisoners, or even political prisoners, in any case with the blood of the oppressed people, as may be the case with the Mao Mausoleum, for example, which also appears in Zhang Wei's horror cabinet. It is precisely all these small algorithmic units, transposed onto a screen, that configure the beard hair, eyelashes, eyes, lips or hair of a political leader, for example.
If so many small units taken from the people ultimately constitute the face of the leader dominating his people, it is amusing to note that in Zhang Wei's black and white process, the color of the skin is no longer a reference with Chinese citizens. He composes the faces of both Obama and Putin. This work of ants, a little similar to the exercise of the one who is supposed to count in the service of the Indian emperor Sheram of rice grains to reward Sissa Ben Daher, the inventor of the chess game, the artist goes one step further than the transformed bodies of the series "Black Notes". Because everything here is fake! And yet, the similarity with the models, i.e. with the two-dimensional reproductions of politicians on the global scene, is almost identical. But only almost - a little like the "look like" that artists like Matthieu Laurette or Alison Jackson have made such good fun of. These fully grafted figures remind us from near and far of the horns of the theatre of world politics.
We know them for an important part of television and other mass media and their infinite reproductions is equal to the omnipresence of movie actors and other pop stars such as Zhang Wei expose them in his Big Star series. Together (with the Portraits in profile of an unknown woman), they form the Artificial Theatre, as the artist calls this complex. This generic term may surprise by its pleonastic aspect, given that theatre is essentially artificial. But we are tempted to see in this title, a distinction from the baroque notion that Shakespeare, for example, used when he wrote "Life is a theatre". Indeed, these figures "seen on TV" and supposed to drown us in emotional baths - if they hold the scene of the so-called political or the scene of the so-called "Zenith" - they all share this semblance of playing theatre, because, as Guy Debord writes, "the show does not sing of men and their weapons, but of goods and their passions". In the artist's way, the photographs are hung in such a way that the viewer is in the field of the crossed glances of the powerful of the world. They look at each other in a face-to-face situation that makes our position as spectators uncomfortable, even more vulnerable. Artificial Theater, Politic Serie, The Leader could also have been included in the exhibition fALSEfAKES, shown in 2013 at the CPG as part of the triennial 50JPG, as exemplary pieces for the possible manipulations that "photoshop" offers us today. Nevertheless, these statesmen are also the screens of the lobbies who, for purely financial interests, still do not resolve to stem the massive destruction of the ozone layer and whose climate change damage is, in negative, visible on the large posters stuck to the wall in the previous room, designed by Ursula Mumenthaler.
如果从任何普通人的肖像中选择那么多小单位最终构成了领导者的面孔，那么有趣的是，在张巍的黑白作品创作过程中，皮肤的颜色变得不是那么的重要任何肤色都可以用中国人的脸的碎片来构成。他创作了奥巴马和普京的肖像。张巍所做的这些作品，有点类似于印度王施含（Shihram）打算用小麦赏赐发明国际象棋宰相施宾达（Sissa ben Dahir）的故事，他的作品类似于更加深刻一步的“ Black Notes”系列的变形体。因为这里的一切都是假的！然而，张巍的作品创造的是与国际舞台上政治人物的二维复制品几乎相同。有点像Matthieu Laurette或Alison Jackson之类的艺术家的非常有趣的 “看起来像”作品。这些完全“嫁接”的人物从世界政治战场的各个角落提醒了我们。
张巍的《大明星》系列中，将我们知道的这些处于无限复制在电视和其他大众媒体的重要组成部分 —— 电影演员和其他流行歌手的无处不在暴露出来。正如艺术家所说的那样，他们与《不知名女人肖像》一起组成了“Artificial Theatre” 考虑到剧团本质上是人为的，这个通用术语可能会让人感到惊讶。但是我们很想在这个标题中看到一个与巴洛克式概念的区别，例如莎士比亚在他写”Life is a theatre" 时所使用的 theatre。确实， “在电视上看到过”的这些人物，应该淹没在我们情感中-如果他们拿着所谓的政治场面或所谓的“ Zenith”场面-他们都具有戏剧表演的相似之处，因为，正如居伊·德波（Guy Debord）所写的那样，“这场演出不是唱歌的人和他们的武器，而是物品和他们的激情”。以艺术家的方式，将照片悬挂起来，使观看者处在与世界强者交叉目光的视野中。面对面地互相看着对方，这使我们作为观众的位置感到不舒服，甚至更加脆弱。《人工剧团》，《领导人》系列，也可以被包括在fALSEfAKES展览中，该展览于2013年在CPG上作为三年期50JPG的一部分展出，作为在“ photoshop”操纵的今天的典范作品之一。然而，这些政治家的肖像虽然挂在Ursula Mumenthaler设计的房间的墙上，但这些政治家的存在只是出于纯粹的经济利益，他们仍然没有阻止放射性的灾难问题比如像是气候变化带来的负面影响问题等实质问题。