Pearl Lam Galleries is pleased to present Babel World, Paris-based, Shanghai-born artist Du Zhenjun’s solo exhibition. The exhibition will feature a selection from the artist’s recent series of photography works, together with an early multimedia video work, and a new media installation created specifically for this show.
Du Zhenjun works primarily in digital media, which the artist believes is the most relevant way of making art in an era largely dominated and shaped by digital technologies. Du’s interactive new media installations and digitally manipulated photographs have made him one of China’s most recognised digital artists.
The exhibition title, Babel World, comes from the artist’s series of photographs of the same name, which emanate his imagination and visions of post-dystopian ruins, as an artist’s delineation and retort to what the world is becoming.
For Du, Babel World symbolises globalisation that is built on the base of a universal digital language. The underlying theme that weaves through this series of photographs is globalisation and the brutal changes brought upon our social condition by digital technologies that inevitably reshape our reality. This series of work is inspired by the Tower of Babel story in the Book of Genesis, in which mankind, who spoke one common language, tried to build a city and tower to reach heaven. God intervened by disorientating them through the creation of multiple languages as a punishment for their betrayal, dispersing people all over the world.
With the myth of Babel as a backdrop, Du’s use of computer technologies allows him to reinterpret the Genesis story in the present day, using digitally assembled Internet-sourced images to create a collage in order to spotlight a different facet of modern conflict, ranging from consumption, climate change, and environmental catastrophe to individualism and geopolitical conflicts. In this exhibition, a section of the gallery space is dedicated to revealing to the audience both raw and original Internet-sourced images from which these large photographs are composed, and sketches that echo the making of these controversial works.
The epic, majestic towers of Babel are Du’s contemporary rendition of the apocalypse, whereby the world’s ecology and its self-destruction are not only comprised of environmental and physical surroundings, but also the mental structure and values of humankind and society to which it correlates. At first glance, the photographs of Babel, a fictional republic, appear to be images of colossal ruins in the foreground of a chaotic urban-scape. Upon closer examination, the more human details of the characters symbolise human relations and indiscriminate concerns, such as love, conflict, and struggle.
The exhibition also features a multimedia video work, It Hurts Me Every Minute (1998), from Du’s earlier years of exploration with digital tools. The video work is one of eleven multimedia pieces that Du exhibited in his 2003 Paris solo show, Too Heavy for Human Beings. This video installation is composed of a selection of twenty animations played in automatic sequence that play with the qualities of light to portray pain and suffering.