ill. 5.42 (set: 5.42)
Zhang Hongtu (1943-) 张宏图
internet file, colour, original source: photograph of installation, colour
Zhang Hongtu, Material Mao 1991-1995 (DACHS 2008 Zhang Hongtu http://momao.com/), Heidelberg catalogue entry
Mao Zedong, Material Mao, Mao portrait, Mao image, symbols, iconography, Chinese avantgarde
Zhang Hongtu: Installation View of 'Material Mao'
An attempt at emptying and distancing Mao is at the heart of Zhang Hongtu’s project conducted between 1991-1995 and entitled Material Mao. Zhang empties out Mao, makes him fade and disappear not by showing a scratched or blotted-out surface, not by putting a visible grid over his image, but by not even operating with a painted outline. He presents a long series of Mao-Silhouettes, i.e. cut-outs, of Mao’s standard portrait in different “materials”—in brick, on a table tennis table, on a canvass splashed in red (lipstick), in corn, soy sauce or feathers—all of which are hung and arranged next to each other in the same space. Each of the portraits of Mao is only visible as a negative. Wu Hung calls the work an “anti-monument” (Wu 2005:204), negating “the very notion of the monument as an embodiment of history and memory.” Mao is present by repeated absences. What this art work does, thereby, again, is to call into question the power of the ubiquitous object itself which turns out to be but an empty shell—perhaps not even quite unlike Mao (who did not even write his own words...) during his own time?