“Sometimes the really useful things are those we regard as useless, the things we disregard or ignore.”

Born 1970, Beijing. Lives and works in Beijing and Madrid.

Zhou Wendou’s works seldom include human figures. Instead, he likes to give witty new twists to common objects, or create bizarre new objects that resemble familiar ones. In one of his best-known works, he smashed a urinal like the one Marcel Duchamp used for his iconic Fountain, then reassembled the pieces into a vase. His neon-light Basketball Hoops (2009)—part of a series that included a padded ping-pong table and angel wings made of shuttlecocks—were inspired by the Beijing Olympics, and the artist’s conclusion that at its highest levels, competitive sport is just another branch of the global entertainment industry. “The basketball hoop is the target for the players, but netting the ball means breaking the neon tube. It’s a trap of self-destruction,” he explains. A student of Chan (Zen) Buddhism, Zhou Wendou is fascinated by the notion that everything contains its opposite. Sometimes, he says, magic lies in doing something and making it look like nothing—or is it the other way around?

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