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O Zhang July 20, 2009 to January 03, 2010 LOCATED on West Georgia Street between Thurlow and Bute streets, Vancouver

O R G A N I Z E D BY: Vancouver Art Gallery F U N D E D BY: City of Vancouver through the Public

Art Program

O Zhang Offsite is the Vancouver Art Gallery’s outdoor public art space featuring a program of rotating projects. Located downtown at the foot of the Living Shangri-La skyscraper development, Offsite serves as a hub for local and international contemporary artists to explore issues related to the surrounding urban context. As artists consider the sitespecific potential of art within the public realm, projects may inspire, bemuse and stimulate broad audiences, and will respond to the changing social and cultural conditions of our contemporary world.

The Vancouver Art Gallery gratefully acknowledges the ongoing financial support of the City of Vancouver, the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and Gaming Revenues, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage.

SU P P O RT E D BY: Ian Gillespie, President, Westbank;

Ben Yeung, President, Petersen Investment Group; Residents at Shangri-La C U R ATO R : Daina Augaitis, Chief Curator/ Associate Director A S S I S TA N T C U R ATO R : Kathleen Ritter C U R ATO R I A L A SSI STA N T: Laura Matwichuk T EC H N I C A L C O O R D I N AT I O N : Elia Kirby,

Great Northern Way Scene Shop

750 Hornby Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7 Canada · www.vanartgallery.bc.ca


O Zhang July 20, 2009 to January 03, 2010 LOCATED on West Georgia Street between Thurlow and Bute streets, Vancouver

O R G A N I Z E D BY: Vancouver Art Gallery F U N D E D BY: City of Vancouver through the Public

Art Program

O Zhang Offsite is the Vancouver Art Gallery’s outdoor public art space featuring a program of rotating projects. Located downtown at the foot of the Living Shangri-La skyscraper development, Offsite serves as a hub for local and international contemporary artists to explore issues related to the surrounding urban context. As artists consider the sitespecific potential of art within the public realm, projects may inspire, bemuse and stimulate broad audiences, and will respond to the changing social and cultural conditions of our contemporary world.

The Vancouver Art Gallery gratefully acknowledges the ongoing financial support of the City of Vancouver, the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and Gaming Revenues, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage.

SU P P O RT E D BY: Ian Gillespie, President, Westbank;

Ben Yeung, President, Petersen Investment Group; Residents at Shangri-La C U R ATO R : Daina Augaitis, Chief Curator/ Associate Director A S S I S TA N T C U R ATO R : Kathleen Ritter C U R ATO R I A L A SSI STA N T: Laura Matwichuk T EC H N I C A L C O O R D I N AT I O N : Elia Kirby,

Great Northern Way Scene Shop

750 Hornby Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7 Canada · www.vanartgallery.bc.ca


O Zhang July 20, 2009 to January 03, 2010 LOCATED on West Georgia Street between Thurlow and Bute streets, Vancouver

O R G A N I Z E D BY: Vancouver Art Gallery F U N D E D BY: City of Vancouver through the Public

Art Program

O Zhang Offsite is the Vancouver Art Gallery’s outdoor public art space featuring a program of rotating projects. Located downtown at the foot of the Living Shangri-La skyscraper development, Offsite serves as a hub for local and international contemporary artists to explore issues related to the surrounding urban context. As artists consider the sitespecific potential of art within the public realm, projects may inspire, bemuse and stimulate broad audiences, and will respond to the changing social and cultural conditions of our contemporary world.

The Vancouver Art Gallery gratefully acknowledges the ongoing financial support of the City of Vancouver, the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and Gaming Revenues, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage.

SU P P O RT E D BY: Ian Gillespie, President, Westbank;

Ben Yeung, President, Petersen Investment Group; Residents at Shangri-La C U R ATO R : Daina Augaitis, Chief Curator/ Associate Director A S S I S TA N T C U R ATO R : Kathleen Ritter C U R ATO R I A L A SSI STA N T: Laura Matwichuk T EC H N I C A L C O O R D I N AT I O N : Elia Kirby,

Great Northern Way Scene Shop

750 Hornby Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7 Canada · www.vanartgallery.bc.ca


O Zhang

Children embody the hope and potential of any nation; they are also among the first to mirror the changing norms of a society and its evolving identity. It is not surprising that kids of all ages and the associations they elicit are the subject of Chinese-born artist O Zhang’s artworks in which she situates her critical observations of China’s political and social transformations within a guarded optimism for a brighter future. Of her three public art projects that launch the Vancouver Art Gallery’s new public art space, Offsite, the most visible are O Zhang’s giant images of young girls that compel any passerby. Horizon (Sky) is an adaptation of an earlier work in which she photographed girls between the ages of four and six from the countryside, close to the central Chinese village where her family was moved in the 1960s for purposes of ‘re-education.’ Living in a fairly remote part of the country and never having been photographed, O Zhang’s subjects have an innocent, unencumbered relationship to the camera and they return a gaze that is remarkably direct and penetrating. Shown squatting on a grassy bluff with a dramatic blue sky behind them, the larger-than-life images are reminiscent of the colour-saturated propaganda posters of the Cultural Revolution, which claimed to promote prosperity and equality for all people. As viewers regard these girls, who seem less like upstanding heroes of the Cultural Revolution and more like crouching tigers ready to spring into the debates of the day, the consequences of China’s one-child policy come to mind, as do the unfulfilled promises of liberation for women and workers, especially those living in L EF T: Audio project installed in the

public passageway

the countryside. Young girls from rural China occupy the lowest levels of the social hierarchy yet here they are blown up to a scale at which they can no longer be ignored. Offsite’s location, adjacent to one of Vancouver’s principal thoroughfares, makes these images unavoidable—people walking or driving by are drawn in by the intense gaze of these children as they look down (rather than up) from their perches. Even as toddlers, they already embody a serious engagement with life, exuding an intensity and confidence well beyond their years. The artist’s aspiration is that in meeting their defiant stares, viewers may find that a deeper consciousness emerges about their living conditions and future expectations. The horizon line continues between frames, visually connecting the individual images into one, long landscape. The horizon of this work is a line that separates earth from sky, and the experience of the present from a future that lies beyond—in this case, a future that appears to be vast and bright, in which self-confident women might become active participants in the transformation of a society. The public art space is tied to a residential and commercial development that includes several pedestrian passageways connecting two main streets where O Zhang has made further interventions there. Just off a busy sidewalk is one such passage, a staircase lined with a grove of bamboo that leads you through an urban shortcut. The lanky bamboo trees that rustle in the wind are a respite from the dense city surrounding this small forest and they create an immediate visceral link to Asia, a connection that is reinforced by O Zhang’s audio installation, The Same Day, The Same City, that broadcasts sounds from downtown Guangzhou into downtown Vancouver. Here the imported sounds of a busy city—hawkers, Chinese pop songs and various street negotiations—merge with the traffic and street noises of Vancouver. The soundtrack is made audible through visible outdoor public-address speakers typically used by Chinese authorities to announce official messages. The ‘messaging’ here is more open and, in this aural confluence of East and West, it serves as a reminder of the delicately balanced ‘mosaic’ that characterizes Canada’s cultural landscape.

LIST OF WORKS:

Horizon (Sky), 2009 (Centre spread and cover) Photographic print on vinyl, series of 6, each 340 x 373 cm Courtesy of the Artist and Peking Fine Art Gallery The World is Yours (But Also Ours), 2008 (Interior right) Inkjet prints on paper, series of 8, each 79 x 99 cm Courtesy of the artist and CRG Gallery The Same Day, The Same City, 2008 (Interior right) Audio installation, 58 minute loop Courtesy of the artist and CRG Gallery Photography: Henri Robideau and Rachel Topham, Vancouver Art Gallery ISBN: 978-1-895442-77-9 © 2009 Vancouver Art Gallery, the artist and the author

A BOV E : Poster project installed in the upper

public passageway

A third work occupies an undeveloped portion of the site, where the artist has installed eight large cylinders that mimic official poster stands erected in cities throughout the world. The images glued onto these posts, which have also been postered throughout Vancouver, are from an ongoing series, The World is Yours (But Also Ours), in which O Zhang has photographed teens and preteens in front of a variety of Chinese monuments and attractions. The adolescents, most of whom are girls, wear Chinese-English T-shirts that O Zhang collected throughout the country, and that are emblematic of the current fascination with Western culture. The misspelled or poorly translated texts on the shirts are made more humorous or ironic by the slogans beneath them that are borrowed from advertising, popular media and quotations by Chairman Mao and other revolutionary leaders. These images were

produced in the months leading up to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, when China was increasingly conscious of its presence on the world stage and many contradictions of communist-style capitalism became abundantly apparent. The artist’s images remain as rather chilling documents of a rapidly changing nation in which the quest for individuality and democracy collide with the repressive practices of state control. Although O Zhang’s images are deceptively simple, they offer a striking alternative to the histories and conventions of representation that depict children as timid and cute, women as objects consumed by the male gaze, or workers as the heroic models of revolutionary poster campaigns. As a Chinese artist currently living in the United States, O Zhang brings a unique perspective to the dramatically unfolding political and social conditions for youth in China today. Off site, but on point. Daina Augaitis, Chief Curator / Associate Director

About the Artist O Zhang (b. 1976, Guangzhou, China) currently lives and works in New York and Beijing. She was trained at the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing (2000) before moving to London where she earned two Masters degrees, the first in fine art from Byam Shaw at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (2001), and the second in photography from the Royal College of Art (2004). O Zhang was the recipient of the Fuji Film Student Award, London (2002);

the Wilson Centre for Photography Fellowship, London (2003); the RCA Photography Graduate Award, London (2006); the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Artist Fellowship, New York (2008); and she is the first recipient of the Artist-in-Residence Program at the Queen’s Museum, New York (2009). O Zhang has had solo exhibitions in New York, Beijing and London. Her work has been included in group shows throughout Europe, North America and China, including the Millennium Monument Art Museum, Beijing (2003); Folkwang Museum, Essen (2003); Kunsthalle Museum, Hamburg (2006); Kunstmuseum, Bern (2006); and Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai (2006). Her work is in the collections of Guggenheim Museum, New York; Santa Barbara Museum; Clifford Chance Art Collection, London; and Millennium Monument Art Museum, Beijing.


O Zhang

Children embody the hope and potential of any nation; they are also among the first to mirror the changing norms of a society and its evolving identity. It is not surprising that kids of all ages and the associations they elicit are the subject of Chinese-born artist O Zhang’s artworks in which she situates her critical observations of China’s political and social transformations within a guarded optimism for a brighter future. Of her three public art projects that launch the Vancouver Art Gallery’s new public art space, Offsite, the most visible are O Zhang’s giant images of young girls that compel any passerby. Horizon (Sky) is an adaptation of an earlier work in which she photographed girls between the ages of four and six from the countryside, close to the central Chinese village where her family was moved in the 1960s for purposes of ‘re-education.’ Living in a fairly remote part of the country and never having been photographed, O Zhang’s subjects have an innocent, unencumbered relationship to the camera and they return a gaze that is remarkably direct and penetrating. Shown squatting on a grassy bluff with a dramatic blue sky behind them, the larger-than-life images are reminiscent of the colour-saturated propaganda posters of the Cultural Revolution, which claimed to promote prosperity and equality for all people. As viewers regard these girls, who seem less like upstanding heroes of the Cultural Revolution and more like crouching tigers ready to spring into the debates of the day, the consequences of China’s one-child policy come to mind, as do the unfulfilled promises of liberation for women and workers, especially those living in L EF T: Audio project installed in the

public passageway

the countryside. Young girls from rural China occupy the lowest levels of the social hierarchy yet here they are blown up to a scale at which they can no longer be ignored. Offsite’s location, adjacent to one of Vancouver’s principal thoroughfares, makes these images unavoidable—people walking or driving by are drawn in by the intense gaze of these children as they look down (rather than up) from their perches. Even as toddlers, they already embody a serious engagement with life, exuding an intensity and confidence well beyond their years. The artist’s aspiration is that in meeting their defiant stares, viewers may find that a deeper consciousness emerges about their living conditions and future expectations. The horizon line continues between frames, visually connecting the individual images into one, long landscape. The horizon of this work is a line that separates earth from sky, and the experience of the present from a future that lies beyond—in this case, a future that appears to be vast and bright, in which self-confident women might become active participants in the transformation of a society. The public art space is tied to a residential and commercial development that includes several pedestrian passageways connecting two main streets where O Zhang has made further interventions there. Just off a busy sidewalk is one such passage, a staircase lined with a grove of bamboo that leads you through an urban shortcut. The lanky bamboo trees that rustle in the wind are a respite from the dense city surrounding this small forest and they create an immediate visceral link to Asia, a connection that is reinforced by O Zhang’s audio installation, The Same Day, The Same City, that broadcasts sounds from downtown Guangzhou into downtown Vancouver. Here the imported sounds of a busy city—hawkers, Chinese pop songs and various street negotiations—merge with the traffic and street noises of Vancouver. The soundtrack is made audible through visible outdoor public-address speakers typically used by Chinese authorities to announce official messages. The ‘messaging’ here is more open and, in this aural confluence of East and West, it serves as a reminder of the delicately balanced ‘mosaic’ that characterizes Canada’s cultural landscape.

LIST OF WORKS:

Horizon (Sky), 2009 (Centre spread and cover) Photographic print on vinyl, series of 6, each 340 x 373 cm Courtesy of the Artist and Peking Fine Art Gallery The World is Yours (But Also Ours), 2008 (Interior right) Inkjet prints on paper, series of 8, each 79 x 99 cm Courtesy of the artist and CRG Gallery The Same Day, The Same City, 2008 (Interior right) Audio installation, 58 minute loop Courtesy of the artist and CRG Gallery Photography: Henri Robideau and Rachel Topham, Vancouver Art Gallery ISBN: 978-1-895442-77-9 © 2009 Vancouver Art Gallery, the artist and the author

A BOV E : Poster project installed in the upper

public passageway

A third work occupies an undeveloped portion of the site, where the artist has installed eight large cylinders that mimic official poster stands erected in cities throughout the world. The images glued onto these posts, which have also been postered throughout Vancouver, are from an ongoing series, The World is Yours (But Also Ours), in which O Zhang has photographed teens and preteens in front of a variety of Chinese monuments and attractions. The adolescents, most of whom are girls, wear Chinese-English T-shirts that O Zhang collected throughout the country, and that are emblematic of the current fascination with Western culture. The misspelled or poorly translated texts on the shirts are made more humorous or ironic by the slogans beneath them that are borrowed from advertising, popular media and quotations by Chairman Mao and other revolutionary leaders. These images were

produced in the months leading up to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, when China was increasingly conscious of its presence on the world stage and many contradictions of communist-style capitalism became abundantly apparent. The artist’s images remain as rather chilling documents of a rapidly changing nation in which the quest for individuality and democracy collide with the repressive practices of state control. Although O Zhang’s images are deceptively simple, they offer a striking alternative to the histories and conventions of representation that depict children as timid and cute, women as objects consumed by the male gaze, or workers as the heroic models of revolutionary poster campaigns. As a Chinese artist currently living in the United States, O Zhang brings a unique perspective to the dramatically unfolding political and social conditions for youth in China today. Off site, but on point. Daina Augaitis, Chief Curator / Associate Director

About the Artist O Zhang (b. 1976, Guangzhou, China) currently lives and works in New York and Beijing. She was trained at the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing (2000) before moving to London where she earned two Masters degrees, the first in fine art from Byam Shaw at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (2001), and the second in photography from the Royal College of Art (2004). O Zhang was the recipient of the Fuji Film Student Award, London (2002);

the Wilson Centre for Photography Fellowship, London (2003); the RCA Photography Graduate Award, London (2006); the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Artist Fellowship, New York (2008); and she is the first recipient of the Artist-in-Residence Program at the Queen’s Museum, New York (2009). O Zhang has had solo exhibitions in New York, Beijing and London. Her work has been included in group shows throughout Europe, North America and China, including the Millennium Monument Art Museum, Beijing (2003); Folkwang Museum, Essen (2003); Kunsthalle Museum, Hamburg (2006); Kunstmuseum, Bern (2006); and Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai (2006). Her work is in the collections of Guggenheim Museum, New York; Santa Barbara Museum; Clifford Chance Art Collection, London; and Millennium Monument Art Museum, Beijing.


O Zhang

Children embody the hope and potential of any nation; they are also among the first to mirror the changing norms of a society and its evolving identity. It is not surprising that kids of all ages and the associations they elicit are the subject of Chinese-born artist O Zhang’s artworks in which she situates her critical observations of China’s political and social transformations within a guarded optimism for a brighter future. Of her three public art projects that launch the Vancouver Art Gallery’s new public art space, Offsite, the most visible are O Zhang’s giant images of young girls that compel any passerby. Horizon (Sky) is an adaptation of an earlier work in which she photographed girls between the ages of four and six from the countryside, close to the central Chinese village where her family was moved in the 1960s for purposes of ‘re-education.’ Living in a fairly remote part of the country and never having been photographed, O Zhang’s subjects have an innocent, unencumbered relationship to the camera and they return a gaze that is remarkably direct and penetrating. Shown squatting on a grassy bluff with a dramatic blue sky behind them, the larger-than-life images are reminiscent of the colour-saturated propaganda posters of the Cultural Revolution, which claimed to promote prosperity and equality for all people. As viewers regard these girls, who seem less like upstanding heroes of the Cultural Revolution and more like crouching tigers ready to spring into the debates of the day, the consequences of China’s one-child policy come to mind, as do the unfulfilled promises of liberation for women and workers, especially those living in L EF T: Audio project installed in the

public passageway

the countryside. Young girls from rural China occupy the lowest levels of the social hierarchy yet here they are blown up to a scale at which they can no longer be ignored. Offsite’s location, adjacent to one of Vancouver’s principal thoroughfares, makes these images unavoidable—people walking or driving by are drawn in by the intense gaze of these children as they look down (rather than up) from their perches. Even as toddlers, they already embody a serious engagement with life, exuding an intensity and confidence well beyond their years. The artist’s aspiration is that in meeting their defiant stares, viewers may find that a deeper consciousness emerges about their living conditions and future expectations. The horizon line continues between frames, visually connecting the individual images into one, long landscape. The horizon of this work is a line that separates earth from sky, and the experience of the present from a future that lies beyond—in this case, a future that appears to be vast and bright, in which self-confident women might become active participants in the transformation of a society. The public art space is tied to a residential and commercial development that includes several pedestrian passageways connecting two main streets where O Zhang has made further interventions there. Just off a busy sidewalk is one such passage, a staircase lined with a grove of bamboo that leads you through an urban shortcut. The lanky bamboo trees that rustle in the wind are a respite from the dense city surrounding this small forest and they create an immediate visceral link to Asia, a connection that is reinforced by O Zhang’s audio installation, The Same Day, The Same City, that broadcasts sounds from downtown Guangzhou into downtown Vancouver. Here the imported sounds of a busy city—hawkers, Chinese pop songs and various street negotiations—merge with the traffic and street noises of Vancouver. The soundtrack is made audible through visible outdoor public-address speakers typically used by Chinese authorities to announce official messages. The ‘messaging’ here is more open and, in this aural confluence of East and West, it serves as a reminder of the delicately balanced ‘mosaic’ that characterizes Canada’s cultural landscape.

LIST OF WORKS:

Horizon (Sky), 2009 (Centre spread and cover) Photographic print on vinyl, series of 6, each 340 x 373 cm Courtesy of the Artist and Peking Fine Art Gallery The World is Yours (But Also Ours), 2008 (Interior right) Inkjet prints on paper, series of 8, each 79 x 99 cm Courtesy of the artist and CRG Gallery The Same Day, The Same City, 2008 (Interior right) Audio installation, 58 minute loop Courtesy of the artist and CRG Gallery Photography: Henri Robideau and Rachel Topham, Vancouver Art Gallery ISBN: 978-1-895442-77-9 © 2009 Vancouver Art Gallery, the artist and the author

A BOV E : Poster project installed in the upper

public passageway

A third work occupies an undeveloped portion of the site, where the artist has installed eight large cylinders that mimic official poster stands erected in cities throughout the world. The images glued onto these posts, which have also been postered throughout Vancouver, are from an ongoing series, The World is Yours (But Also Ours), in which O Zhang has photographed teens and preteens in front of a variety of Chinese monuments and attractions. The adolescents, most of whom are girls, wear Chinese-English T-shirts that O Zhang collected throughout the country, and that are emblematic of the current fascination with Western culture. The misspelled or poorly translated texts on the shirts are made more humorous or ironic by the slogans beneath them that are borrowed from advertising, popular media and quotations by Chairman Mao and other revolutionary leaders. These images were

produced in the months leading up to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, when China was increasingly conscious of its presence on the world stage and many contradictions of communist-style capitalism became abundantly apparent. The artist’s images remain as rather chilling documents of a rapidly changing nation in which the quest for individuality and democracy collide with the repressive practices of state control. Although O Zhang’s images are deceptively simple, they offer a striking alternative to the histories and conventions of representation that depict children as timid and cute, women as objects consumed by the male gaze, or workers as the heroic models of revolutionary poster campaigns. As a Chinese artist currently living in the United States, O Zhang brings a unique perspective to the dramatically unfolding political and social conditions for youth in China today. Off site, but on point. Daina Augaitis, Chief Curator / Associate Director

About the Artist O Zhang (b. 1976, Guangzhou, China) currently lives and works in New York and Beijing. She was trained at the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing (2000) before moving to London where she earned two Masters degrees, the first in fine art from Byam Shaw at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (2001), and the second in photography from the Royal College of Art (2004). O Zhang was the recipient of the Fuji Film Student Award, London (2002);

the Wilson Centre for Photography Fellowship, London (2003); the RCA Photography Graduate Award, London (2006); the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Artist Fellowship, New York (2008); and she is the first recipient of the Artist-in-Residence Program at the Queen’s Museum, New York (2009). O Zhang has had solo exhibitions in New York, Beijing and London. Her work has been included in group shows throughout Europe, North America and China, including the Millennium Monument Art Museum, Beijing (2003); Folkwang Museum, Essen (2003); Kunsthalle Museum, Hamburg (2006); Kunstmuseum, Bern (2006); and Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai (2006). Her work is in the collections of Guggenheim Museum, New York; Santa Barbara Museum; Clifford Chance Art Collection, London; and Millennium Monument Art Museum, Beijing.


O Zhang

Children embody the hope and potential of any nation; they are also among the first to mirror the changing norms of a society and its evolving identity. It is not surprising that kids of all ages and the associations they elicit are the subject of Chinese-born artist O Zhang’s artworks in which she situates her critical observations of China’s political and social transformations within a guarded optimism for a brighter future. Of her three public art projects that launch the Vancouver Art Gallery’s new public art space, Offsite, the most visible are O Zhang’s giant images of young girls that compel any passerby. Horizon (Sky) is an adaptation of an earlier work in which she photographed girls between the ages of four and six from the countryside, close to the central Chinese village where her family was moved in the 1960s for purposes of ‘re-education.’ Living in a fairly remote part of the country and never having been photographed, O Zhang’s subjects have an innocent, unencumbered relationship to the camera and they return a gaze that is remarkably direct and penetrating. Shown squatting on a grassy bluff with a dramatic blue sky behind them, the larger-than-life images are reminiscent of the colour-saturated propaganda posters of the Cultural Revolution, which claimed to promote prosperity and equality for all people. As viewers regard these girls, who seem less like upstanding heroes of the Cultural Revolution and more like crouching tigers ready to spring into the debates of the day, the consequences of China’s one-child policy come to mind, as do the unfulfilled promises of liberation for women and workers, especially those living in L EF T: Audio project installed in the

public passageway

the countryside. Young girls from rural China occupy the lowest levels of the social hierarchy yet here they are blown up to a scale at which they can no longer be ignored. Offsite’s location, adjacent to one of Vancouver’s principal thoroughfares, makes these images unavoidable—people walking or driving by are drawn in by the intense gaze of these children as they look down (rather than up) from their perches. Even as toddlers, they already embody a serious engagement with life, exuding an intensity and confidence well beyond their years. The artist’s aspiration is that in meeting their defiant stares, viewers may find that a deeper consciousness emerges about their living conditions and future expectations. The horizon line continues between frames, visually connecting the individual images into one, long landscape. The horizon of this work is a line that separates earth from sky, and the experience of the present from a future that lies beyond—in this case, a future that appears to be vast and bright, in which self-confident women might become active participants in the transformation of a society. The public art space is tied to a residential and commercial development that includes several pedestrian passageways connecting two main streets where O Zhang has made further interventions there. Just off a busy sidewalk is one such passage, a staircase lined with a grove of bamboo that leads you through an urban shortcut. The lanky bamboo trees that rustle in the wind are a respite from the dense city surrounding this small forest and they create an immediate visceral link to Asia, a connection that is reinforced by O Zhang’s audio installation, The Same Day, The Same City, that broadcasts sounds from downtown Guangzhou into downtown Vancouver. Here the imported sounds of a busy city—hawkers, Chinese pop songs and various street negotiations—merge with the traffic and street noises of Vancouver. The soundtrack is made audible through visible outdoor public-address speakers typically used by Chinese authorities to announce official messages. The ‘messaging’ here is more open and, in this aural confluence of East and West, it serves as a reminder of the delicately balanced ‘mosaic’ that characterizes Canada’s cultural landscape.

LIST OF WORKS:

Horizon (Sky), 2009 (Centre spread and cover) Photographic print on vinyl, series of 6, each 340 x 373 cm Courtesy of the Artist and Peking Fine Art Gallery The World is Yours (But Also Ours), 2008 (Interior right) Inkjet prints on paper, series of 8, each 79 x 99 cm Courtesy of the artist and CRG Gallery The Same Day, The Same City, 2008 (Interior right) Audio installation, 58 minute loop Courtesy of the artist and CRG Gallery Photography: Henri Robideau and Rachel Topham, Vancouver Art Gallery ISBN: 978-1-895442-77-9 © 2009 Vancouver Art Gallery, the artist and the author

A BOV E : Poster project installed in the upper

public passageway

A third work occupies an undeveloped portion of the site, where the artist has installed eight large cylinders that mimic official poster stands erected in cities throughout the world. The images glued onto these posts, which have also been postered throughout Vancouver, are from an ongoing series, The World is Yours (But Also Ours), in which O Zhang has photographed teens and preteens in front of a variety of Chinese monuments and attractions. The adolescents, most of whom are girls, wear Chinese-English T-shirts that O Zhang collected throughout the country, and that are emblematic of the current fascination with Western culture. The misspelled or poorly translated texts on the shirts are made more humorous or ironic by the slogans beneath them that are borrowed from advertising, popular media and quotations by Chairman Mao and other revolutionary leaders. These images were

produced in the months leading up to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, when China was increasingly conscious of its presence on the world stage and many contradictions of communist-style capitalism became abundantly apparent. The artist’s images remain as rather chilling documents of a rapidly changing nation in which the quest for individuality and democracy collide with the repressive practices of state control. Although O Zhang’s images are deceptively simple, they offer a striking alternative to the histories and conventions of representation that depict children as timid and cute, women as objects consumed by the male gaze, or workers as the heroic models of revolutionary poster campaigns. As a Chinese artist currently living in the United States, O Zhang brings a unique perspective to the dramatically unfolding political and social conditions for youth in China today. Off site, but on point. Daina Augaitis, Chief Curator / Associate Director

About the Artist O Zhang (b. 1976, Guangzhou, China) currently lives and works in New York and Beijing. She was trained at the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing (2000) before moving to London where she earned two Masters degrees, the first in fine art from Byam Shaw at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (2001), and the second in photography from the Royal College of Art (2004). O Zhang was the recipient of the Fuji Film Student Award, London (2002);

the Wilson Centre for Photography Fellowship, London (2003); the RCA Photography Graduate Award, London (2006); the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Artist Fellowship, New York (2008); and she is the first recipient of the Artist-in-Residence Program at the Queen’s Museum, New York (2009). O Zhang has had solo exhibitions in New York, Beijing and London. Her work has been included in group shows throughout Europe, North America and China, including the Millennium Monument Art Museum, Beijing (2003); Folkwang Museum, Essen (2003); Kunsthalle Museum, Hamburg (2006); Kunstmuseum, Bern (2006); and Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai (2006). Her work is in the collections of Guggenheim Museum, New York; Santa Barbara Museum; Clifford Chance Art Collection, London; and Millennium Monument Art Museum, Beijing.


O Zhang July 20, 2009 to January 03, 2010 LOCATED on West Georgia Street between Thurlow and Bute streets, Vancouver

O R G A N I Z E D BY: Vancouver Art Gallery F U N D E D BY: City of Vancouver through the Public

Art Program

O Zhang Offsite is the Vancouver Art Gallery’s outdoor public art space featuring a program of rotating projects. Located downtown at the foot of the Living Shangri-La skyscraper development, Offsite serves as a hub for local and international contemporary artists to explore issues related to the surrounding urban context. As artists consider the sitespecific potential of art within the public realm, projects may inspire, bemuse and stimulate broad audiences, and will respond to the changing social and cultural conditions of our contemporary world.

The Vancouver Art Gallery gratefully acknowledges the ongoing financial support of the City of Vancouver, the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and Gaming Revenues, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage.

SU P P O RT E D BY: Ian Gillespie, President, Westbank;

Ben Yeung, President, Petersen Investment Group; Residents at Shangri-La C U R ATO R : Daina Augaitis, Chief Curator/ Associate Director A S S I S TA N T C U R ATO R : Kathleen Ritter C U R ATO R I A L A SSI STA N T: Laura Matwichuk T EC H N I C A L C O O R D I N AT I O N : Elia Kirby,

Great Northern Way Scene Shop

750 Hornby Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7 Canada · www.vanartgallery.bc.ca


Offsite: O Zhang