O Zhang: a splendid future for the passed
A duality of fractured existence prevails in much of Zhang's work, often reflecting conflicted states of being between the natural/unnatural, east/west, past/future, and here/hereafter. In a splendid future for the passed, Zhang's installation offers a pathway for those recently departed to enter the afterlife – in Buddhist belief, a stalled journey if the death has been due to unnatural circumstances. An intertwined and fragile balance between life and death is expressed through Zhang's fusion of the colors red and white, emblematic in Chinese culture for prosperity and happiness, and for mourning and misfortune, respectively.
On display is a text panel with excerpts compiled from local news media reports of deaths that occurred over the last year due to tragedies such as accidents and homicides that took place in New York City's Chinatown neighborhoods (Brooklyn's Sunset Park, Manhattan's Chinatown, and Queens' Flushing). Additionally, two small white rabbits are situated in a carefully prepared temporary living environment within a private area where they may freely play, roam, and rest within view.
These sentient beings are viewed by Zhang as being connected to the Buddhist concept of life energy, and are featured in honor of the upcoming Chinese Year of the Rabbit beginning in early 2011, a year traditionally associated with home and family, artistic pursuits, diplomacy, and keeping the peace. Doubling is also deeply significant in Chinese culture, with the pair of rabbits signifying a state of "double happiness" and balance for the new Year of the Rabbit to come. A red carpet covers the entire floor area, where visitors are invited to walk individually or two to three at a time; this action "completes" the journey of those in transition to what Zhang conceives of as a splendid afterlife.
To further complete this process of renewal and upon the close of the exhibition, the rabbits, currently fostered by Zhang and without a permanent home, will be available for adoption with assistance from Rabbit Rescue & Rehab, the New York City Chapter of the House Rabbit Society. Rabbit Rescue & Rehab will screen potential adopters of the rabbits so that they may reside in a stable home with a caring and committed owner.
O Zhang (b. 1976, Guangzhou, China) received her MA in Photography from the Royal College of Art in London (2004). Based in New York, she has had solo exhibitions and public projects at Queens Museum of Art, Queens, NY (2009), Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada (2009), and others. Her group exhibitions include The Fokus Lodz Biennial, Lodz, Poland (2010); The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA (2010); Peabody Essex Museum, Massachusetts, MA (2009); Joan Miro Museum, Barcelona, Spain (2008); and UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA (2008), among others. Zhang has received many awards and was an inaugural artist-in-residence at the Queens Museum of Art, Queens, NY (2009-10). Her work is represented in collections worldwide including the Guggenheim Museum and has been featured in such publications as Art in America, The Art Newspaper, Canadian Art, The Evening Standard, The Guardian, The London Times, Shanghai Bund Magazine, Surface, TimeOut Beijing, TimeOut London, The Village Voice, and Yishu.