Boredom Aesthetics: The Early Videos of Zhang Peili

Education Hallway
January 14–July 12, 2020



This exhibition presents three works by Zhāng Péilì, the first Chinese-based artist to use video as his primary medium. The 1980s saw rapid changes in China, as art academies reopened after the government lifted Cultural Revolution-era restrictions, economic reforms led to increased private ownership of television sets, and artists participated in avant-garde events. Trained in oil painting, Zhāng began to experiment with video by recording monotonous actions in works that emphasize repetition and suppress narrative. These qualities test viewers’ patience, rejecting the entertainment value of the screen to aestheticize the experience of being bored. For art historian Orianna Cacchione, “These works also emphasize the temporality of television, transforming the act of watching from one of ‘killing time’ into one of ‘experiencing time.’”

Organized by Emma Laube ’17, curatorial assistant in the Office of Academic Programs.

Image: Zhang Peili (Chinese, b. 1957), 30 x 30, 1988, single-channel color video with sound, 32:02. On loan from the artist; image courtesy of the Boers-Li Gallery.

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