ARTS / ART
Chinese artist invites visitors to explore his body at Beijing exhibition ‘Mortals Index 2020’
Published: Mar 28, 2021 06:41 PM
13-centimeter cubed burgundy red crystal sculpture shows the total amount of blood in the artist. Photo: Courtesy for No.1 Jade River gallery

13-centimeter cubed burgundy red crystal sculpture shows the total amount of blood in the artist, Zhang Peili. Photo: Courtesy for Beijing Center for the Arts

A number of artworks created by Chinese artist Zhang Peili, who turns his body parts into 3D printed sculptures using fine materials such as "Michelangelo marble" and crystal, were revealed at the No.1 Jade River gallery in Beijing on Saturday. 

The measurements and shapes of the works on display were created based on Zhang's real organs. Zhang's organs such as lungs, liver, brain and heart have been sculpted from pure white onyx, and a mysterious looking 13-centimeter cubed burgundy red crystal sculpture shows the total amount of blood in the artist according to a medical examination Zhang undertook. 

Mortals Index 2020 gathers assorted artworks by Zhang such as sculptures, installation works and painting created over the past five years. Though his "body index" collection has already been shown once before and people have not even imagined that the body data will prove useful to help stop the COVID-19 pandemic, the artworks on show still provide audiences with some thoughts about "body" and "identity" in the post-pandemic period. 

"When the lights turn off, ant-sized numbers reveal themselves in the dark space and become extremely clear… it reminds me of the dark, secret and depressing moments we've all been through while witnessing people die as numbers on a screen every single day during the pandemic," a media reporter at the exhibition told the Global Times on Saturday. 

"I feel Zhang uses numbers to complete a self-portrait, like other artists who use lines and colors. Though the introduction of such works, to me, was focused on Zhang's passion and dedication to exploring himself, there is a hint of pessimism: We all are numbers, but very different and unique ones though," a visitor at the exhibition told the Global Times on Saturday. 

The artwork of Collision Models 2. Photo: Courtesy for No.1 Jade River

Zhang Peili's artwork of Collision Models 2, 2020. Photo: Courtesy for Beijing Center for the Arts

Besides Zhang's exploration of his own body, the exhibition also includes an installation work called Collision Models 2 that can literally wake up viewers' senses with merciless deafening noise as they watch it swing heavy bulky gas tanks against a silver skull. 

"A gas tank is an object that symbolizes ordinary everyday life. The skull is shaped like Zhang's, suggesting a real human being. The work is like an exploration of the inner body and the outer world in a turbulent and intense forced collision, like what happened between me and the world when the crazy pandemic arrived," an art expert at the exhibition told the Global Times on Saturday. 

"I've never thought about what things will be like in five or 10 years. I don't think about the future too much, maybe there is even not going to be…," Zhang told the Global Times in an interview with different medias on Saturday, explaining what the current works could possibly mean to him as time goes by. 


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