“I want my work to crystallise a fleeting moment of time—it might be the past, it might be an imaginary future.”

Born 1980, Yueqing, Zhejiang. Lives and works in Hangzhou.

Chen Wei has likened his works to “chaotic sentences”. These installations and photographs sum up the soulless decay of society and self in contemporary China. The mood is one of eerie solitude. The scenes are empty or nearly so; any occupants seem to be trying to hide or escape. In Phlegm (2008), the only person visible is kneeling in a dark corner, face to the wall. Often, a disaster seems to have taken place: a failed love affair, a meteor strike, a mass epidemic, an alien invasion. In Today Is Unsuitable for Shooting (2013), surveillance cameras stare through dimly lit fog at nothing. The installation Drunken Dance Hall (2015) has no dancers, only broken glass and mirrors that turn neon lights into cracked reflections of emptiness. Disco is dead; the music and glitter that brought crowds to this nightclub now seem merely pointless. In History of Enchantment (Cold Sculpture) Shanghai (2015), a set of gleaming geometric shapes evokes the utopian skyline of new Shanghai. For all its shiny newness, it is as soulless as the rubbish-strewn Tunnel and Rat’s Post Office (2008).

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