Guest artist in the Esprit Dior exhibition that runs until 10 November 2013 at MoCA Shangai, Qiu Zhijie revient en exclusivité pour DiorMag sur l’œuvre qu’il a réalisée pour l’occasion. A series of sixteen screens on which words, place and arts merge and make merry in a poetic dialogue.
There are many Qiu Zhijies in Qiu Zhijie. Famous primarily for his photographs and videos, he's also a poet and essayist. A graduate of the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts, he also studied traditional calligraphy, history and philosophy. This intellectual richness profoundly influences his works, which often appear as though suspended in perpetual motion between disciplines, arts and eras.
Right from his earliest works, he's been creating a dialogue between the Chinese calligraphy tradition and the modern world. His influences? Joseph Beuys and Nam June Paik of the Fluxus group, two video art pioneers engaging in social criticism through derision. This double influence that informs Qiu Zhijie's work, this endless shifting between past and present, tradition and technology, is palpable in the video performance The Orchid Pavilion Preface : the artist writes, in calligraphy, a text by the highly respected traditional Chinese writer Wang Xizhi, repeating the exercise until the characters become illegible and the white of the page vanishes beneath the black of the ink. Through Qiu Zhijie's brushstrokes imperial China's cultural heritage seems to drown in a dark confrontation with the world of today, until is disappears into a dark void.
Calligraphy is also confronted with modernity in his photographs. Qui Zhijie regularly puts himself on show, making his own body a vector for his critical questionings. Tattoo II represents the artist, his torso covered with a blood-red character signifying "you shouldn't ". Usually considered a means of free expression, the tattoo here is a gag sealing the mouth shut with a slick of red, a shackle that immobilizes the whole body, seeming to impose an enforced silence. Such works, in their fusion of social questioning with poetic aesthetics, are considered classics of Chinese contemporary art and are regularly exhibited around the world.
The work that Qui Zhijie produced for the Esprit Dior exhibition is indicative of the governing thrust of his artistic output, inviting the visitor to travel, from one screen to the next, between Europe and China, contemporary life and the vestiges of the past. As we gaze at them, the artist's fleeting shadow traces these sixteen words: "Ce g énie léger propre à notre temps et dont le nom magique comporte Dieu et or" [This genius of our time who magic name contains God and gold ] . This line from Cocteau emerges like a veritable bridge between the tradition of elegance inherited from Christian Dior and today's world, something the work of the couture forever seeks to capture.