11 July – 26 September 2009
Chinese Arts Centre is proud to present the first UK solo exhibition of Shanghai based artists Ji Weiyu and Song Tao who collaborate under the name of Birdhead. They are smart operators, have a highly collaborative approach and youthful outlook, and have become a respected presence in the Shanghai arts scene.
The two artists grew up in Shanghai in the 1980s, a time of mass urbanisation in China. The frenetic pace of change leaves no time to stop, think and ask questions – for them the only way to capture the moment is through the camera lens. The result is a highly improvised and spontaneous aesthetic. Their subjective and un-retouched take on urban reality captures a local point of view and invokes the physical experience of being in Shanghai.
For the exhibition at Chinese Arts Centre, they have transformed the gallery into the world of Birdhead by filling up the space with around 300 snapshots of their everyday lives and surroundings. The writings on the wall are selected poems from the Song Dynasty, which dates back over a thousand years. Despite being ancient poems, the duo can see connections between their depictions of contemporary life in Shanghai and the essence of the poems.
In addition to the photographs there are a number of other works including the video, My Beautiful Zhang Jiang, which takes the viewer on a journey through purpose-built industrial city Zhang Jiang in the Pudong district of Shanghai. There is also a tiny metal sculpture of the duo entitled We Will Shoot You, inspired by the title of the musical We Will Rock You, and a video of the artists’ observations of cultural difference made during a residency at Lakeside Arts Centre in 2008.