Guardian (RCA Photo Supplement)

Medium and Matter

O Zhang
–David Campany


O Zhanq’s photoqraphs set up a very striking contrast and critique of Eastern and Western power relations. The installation of her photoqraphs relays between a grid of colour photoqraphs of young Chinese girls sat on a hillside and a single, large-scale image of an ageing Western man lying naked in a Romantic garden setting. In both elements of this work, Zhanq reverses our preconceptions of cultural, political and economic strength. The Western man is literally stripped and laid bare, the softness and vulnerability of his physical form, curled into a foetal position, set within in a disarmingly feminine representation of nature. While the young Chinese girls, dressed in bright colours and in rude health, squat on the hillside. The formation of their portraits into a grid suggest that the girls sit like a tiered audience of theatre critics, looking on to the vulnerability of the West represented by the solitary man, a vivid and knowing mass that represents what the balance of international power in the future could be.


May 29th, 2004