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la Biennale di Venezia - Biennale Arte 2011 Author: Marsilio 2011


Song Tao and Ji Weiyu founded the photography collective Birdhead in 2004 in Shanghai. The collective's oeuvre consists of videos and photographs of everyday life in their native city. The snapshot aesthetic of their extensive and accumulative photo-series, shot in black and white as well as color, deliver a subjective take on contemporary urban reality in China. The frenetic pace of change in Shanghai, which they lived through in the 1980s, is conveyed by the spontaneous and accumulative nature of their work, invoking the physical experience of being in Shanghai and the relationship between the body and the city. These acts of memorization come close to early conceptual and minimalist art approaches, involving an incremental and repetitious alteration from one piece of work to the next.

Chou Nu Er is a photographic recreation of a classical Song Dynasty-era poem by Xin Qiji- one that Chinese people are largely familiar with. In this work, each text character in the poem is a photographic image taken from Shanghai's street signs. By conveying solitude through ordinary fragments of writing from around the city, Birdhead create a vivid depiction of the emptiness felt by urban-dwellers. Behind the poem, in a dedicated room, is an extensive collection of Birdhead's photography produced between 2004 and the present – a continuation of their investigation into Shanghai's most mundane aspects.

Quote from 'ILLUMInations' P134


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