“Today’s China is a society of madness. The relationships between individuals are also near madness.

Born 1981, Beijing

Chili, his chosen English name, reflects Chi Lei’s hyperactive approach to art.  At ease in many media (his ventures have included a design firm and a blog), Chili prefers photography because it enables him to be a writer-director—of playlets that mix reality-TV trashiness with exuberant farce. His Red Star Motel (2009) is a series of snapshot scenes set in the identically furnished rooms of a cheap Beijing motel and acted out by the artist’s friends. The idea came in part from American Lyndon Wade’s Room 107, but Chili says every detail of his motel is Chinese, drawn from his own stays in similar dives. The scenarios are interlinked via carefully placed visual clues. In following them, the viewer briefly checks into Chili’s over-the-top motel, becoming alternately a detective like the two cops investigating a murder; a voyeur like the X-rated-movie director; and an eavesdropper like the elderly man, ear pressed to the wall as he whispers to his wife (in the artist’s eccentric translation): “Shhh. Listen. There is some strange voice in the next door. Just like killing a pig. It sounds like our boys’ voice.”

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