b. 1977, Shanghai, China
Xu Zhen was born in Shanghai in 1977, where he still lives and works. In 2009 Xu relaunched his artistic practice as a corporation named MadeIn Company.
Xu began to make a name for himself in Shanghai’s artistic community in the 1990s with works that addressed socio-political taboos in China in the areas of sexuality, the body and geopolitics. Xu’s artistic approach is often characterised by an ironic and ambiguous attitude, where he refuses to adopt a moral or political standpoint. An example of this is 18 Days, a fictitious documentary film about a journey during which the artist and three friends “invade” several countries that share borders with China with the help of remote-controlled toy planes, tanks and boats. In the installation the artist has exhibited the car and toy weapons that were used during the trip. The work contains references to both modern war reporting and China’s numerous border conflicts. The artist’s journey is an ironic observation on this geopolitical situation while at the same time his fictitious invasion serves as a commentary on challenging political circumstances.
Xu is also presented with recent works that was made by MadeIn Company. The embroidered collage Fierce Tiger Speed Through Valley is comprising traditional Chinese and Japanese motifs such as a tiger, a dragon, geishas, carps and demons. The work is taken from a serie of images with a variety of cultural and geographic origins are obtained from the Internet and are combined to form new constellations that opens up for new meanings. The two paintings from the Data Movement series are based on low-definition photos from social networks such as Tumblr. Xu challenges the idea of the originality of a piece of art through works that also reflect the infinite access to images and information offered by the Internet.