Zhou Jun

 

Zhou Jun was born in Nanjing Province in 1965 and graduated from Nanjing Normal University (photography) in 1990. He currently lives in Beijing.

Zhou Jun uses large format film cameras to produce negatives, which are scanned, manipulated and printed to produce large unframed photographic works. The works present as black and white photographs with overlays of red. The built environment is the subject of his work and emphases China’s rapid and sometimes brutal redevelopment.

The contradictions that are presented when trying to preserve the past in a time of China’s unprecedented economic growth underpins the work of Zhou Jun. During the last thirty years the most striking feature of China’s re-development has been its city construction. The demolition of whole villages to make way for high-rise development is a regular occurrence. The lead up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics saw massive building works and although it transformed Beijing into a modern city entire neighbourhoods were ‘moved on’ in the name of progress.

Zhou Jun’s work embodies a quality of yearning for the past to some extent and this is seen in his photographs of historic buildings from Beijing. He is acutely aware of the expansion of Chinese cities and the loss of traditional architecture. It is the loss of Chinese culture in the pursuit of globalisation.

Zhou Jun photographs this changing constructed landscape in black and white and adds overlays of red, choosing the scaffolding and architectural framing of construction sites to add colour. The colour red has significance in Chinese cultural memory as it is used for ceremonial occasions such as weddings but it also represents revolutionary communist ideology. It is a reminder of the turmoil of the recent past. Because of this, the wide variety of perspectives of each person means completely different feelings and reactions are aroused by the colour red. The partnership between the black and white photographs and the red sections of scaffolding allows the audience to produce their own meanings.

Zhou Jun states:

“The three decades of development China is experiencing – building to a crescendo with the Olympics – are unparalleled in history. The colour red, which I use to highlight specific parts of the photograph, can elicit different responses in people from different countries or cultures – at times, it can even have opposite meanings for people. I want my work to be interpreted differently by people depending on their response to the symbolic meaning of red. In this sense, the work has the potential to reveal international perspectives to common subject matter.”


“Hanging Red”, 2009, 120 x 150 cm, Archival Inkjet Print on Fine Art Paper, Image courtesy of Red Gate Gallery


“The Confucius Pavilion No. 1”, 2005, 120 x 120 cm, Archival Inkjet Print on Fine Art Paper, Image courtesy of Red Gate Gallery

This is a historic building from Nanjing.


“Expo 2010 Shanghai - China Pavilion”, 2009, 120 x 150 cm, Archival Inkjet Print on Fine Art Paper, Image courtesy of Red Gate Gallery


“Bird’s Nest No. 4”, 2007, 180 x 220 cm, Archival Inkjet Print on Fine Art Paper, Image courtesy of Red Gate Gallery

Beijing National Stadium was designed by Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron and is know as the Bird’s nest”. It was built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was the artistic consultant on the project.


“Burnt Building”, 2009, 120 x 150 cm, Archival Inkjet Print on Fine Art Paper, Image courtesy of Red Gate Gallery

This was the CCTV building in Beijing that was burnt in 2009 and currently undergoing a re-build. The cause of the fire was arson and several people connected to the development were found to be guilty. The innovative design remains controversial.

Zhou Jun also creates sculptural works using porcelain and other materials.


Image courtesy of Red Gate Gallery