Drunken Dance Hall

Chen Wei


Production date

Object Detail

wood, steel, luminescent paint, broken glass, lights, acrylic, mirrors
site specific, dimensions variable
Drunken Dance Hall (2015) represents a new direction in Chen Wei’s practice. He began to think of his constructed ‘sets’ as finished works, complete in themselves, rather than as precursors for photography. Inspired by Arthur Rimbaud’s revolutionary 1871 poem, ‘Le Bateau Ivre’ (‘The Drunken Boat’), a vivid first-person narrative of a drifting boat lost at sea, Chen Wei created a haunting space that invites viewers to recall moments of their own past, adrift in memory. The nightclub is abandoned, the dance floor littered with shards of glass, and a fallen mirror ball symbolises the end of the revelry. Bar stools are turned away from the purple neon-lit bar as if patrons have just now abandoned them. The scene recalls the houses and shops of Pompeii, ordinary life left behind in the rush to flee catastrophe. Here, though, the lurid neon barely disguises the tawdry insubstantial nature of this palace of fun. The only places in China where groups of people can gather together without attracting the attention of the authorities, nightclubs promise momentary pleasure and an escape from reality.
Accession number
Artist details