The story of Zhao Zhao’s ‘In Extremis’ exhibition begins with the death of a cat
Zhao Zhao (b.1982 in Xinjiang) studied painting in college and majored in fine arts. After his graduation, he worked on documentaries and other projects related to social change. His paintings, sculptures, installations and videos address realities in his country, as well as documenting his life and those of his friends.
“Every work I do has a great relation with my life, I never do something that I haven’t experienced. There is a narrative behind everything I do. Sometimes works don’t just look realistic in fact they are the expression of my reality. ”
‘This story begins with a cat. One day in 2015, dust blanketed an asphalt road in Beijing. The cars flew by, as the sunlight shining on the gravel and asphalt reflected a few pinpoints of light. White guardrails separated two lanes with different speed limits; everyone hurried onward, all with their own worries and concerns. In the center of the road was a dead cat—I don’t know how many times it had been run over—but all that was left were some tire marks and a bit of fur.
Mottled traces and chalk mists are the only threads in this story. The deterioration of life, regardless of its cause, is enlightening. Three years later, Zhao Zhao remade the shapes that he had recorded—the images of the flattened cats—in metal. As if commemorating what he saw, he needed to leave evidence that would not disappear. Comprised of four materials—glistening brass, reflective stainless steel, dignified black steel, and chimeric blue steel—this once soft fur has been transformed into extremely hard fragments, which are inlaid into the asphalt surface that Zhao Zhao set. Several thousand fragments of different materials and sizes constitute images of more than 20 cats, arranged in different places around the exhibition hall. ‘ Text by Cui Cancan, curator of the exhibition
Tags: 2018, Beijing, Chinese artist, exhibition, installation, Young Chinese Artists, Zhao Zhao