b. 1980, Gansu Province, China
Zhang Ding was born in Gansu Province in 1980, he has been living and working in Shanghai since 2004. Zhang moved to Shanghai illegally, and was thus an urban immigrant, a subject he has addressed in his art since early in his career.
The work N Kilometers towards the West is a sound sculpture in the form of a gigantic ball whose surface is covered with woollen blankets. Loudspeakers are mounted at various points on the ball, playing a cacophonic symphony of sounds from the urban landscape. The artist recorded the sounds in the city of Linxia in the province of Gansu. This city is known as China’s “little Mecca” due to its large Muslim population. The 16 tracks were recorded in various places in the city at different times of the day. We can clearly hear the calls to prayer from the mosques, which begin early in the morning. The blankets that cover the surface of the round sculpture are of the same type that the Chinese Muslims use as prayer rugs. The sculpture thus gives insight into a lesser-known aspect of Chinese society, which could help to create new dimensions in our understanding of the country and its citizens.