mineral-based composite, stainless steel, paint, steel fencing and roofing, gravel, straw, plants
320 x 1550 x 2550 cm
The 28 figures in ‘Alien’ are based on Han Dynasty Tomb figures – kneeling servants. The colouration, Xu Zhen believes, provides a myriad of new possible interpretations, as do their eye masks and head gear. Seeing their orange garb and subservient kneeling attitudes we immediately think, of course, of the plight of prisoners in the contemporary world – in gulags the world over, in Abu Ghraib, in Guantanamo Bay, in the privately-run prisons of the United States and in state-run prisons and detention centres everywhere. The viewer is placed in the uncomfortable position of the observer, the guard, watching over faceless, dehumanised detainees. But, Xu Zhen suggests, the viewer is also inevitably the consumer of old and new media – television drama, news and current affairs that washes over us all in a ceaseless torrent to which we become rapidly desensitised: the image of the prisoner is thus an object of consumption.