An enigma in a vortex

Zhang Ding's solo exhibition at ShanghART Gallery is a mysterious offering with no explanation.
Ti Gong

It’s extremely difficult to decipher Zhang Ding’s video installation “Vortex” on display at ShanghArt Gallery at West Bund.

It is the only work in his solo exhibition, and Zhang refuses to give any clue to explain it, as usual — just like he did three years ago.

Visitors first encounter a huge empty site, with only several lights above their heads. Then they are shadowed by an LED screen hung in the air, transforming geographic patterns with striking hues. In fact, the big “screen” consists of 20 small screens.

But if you think that is what the artist is offering, you are totally wrong. Zhang always conjures up layers of visual effects. What reflects in the LED is an illusionary world he created in the computer. 

He established a fake 25,000-square-meter Gobi Desert in a “vortex” of 500 meters deep and scanned his movement in it. Every day he walked in the desert toward the center of the vortex for eight hours.

Born in 1980 in Gansu Province, Zhang’s works are mainly solo projects, such as video, installation, painting and live performance.

Since his work “Tools” (2007), Zhang has been focusing on constructing absurd scenes of contrasts and conflicts, which has become his way of interpreting metaphors for societal references.

In “Opening” (2011), live performance was brought into his project for the first time and remained present all the way to “Orbit of Rock” (2014).

Exhibition details

Date: Through October 27, 10am-6pm

Venue: ShanghArt Gallery, West Bund

Address: Bldg 10, 2255 Longteng Ave

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