America Likes Me

Zhou Xiaohu


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oil painting on aluminium plate, animation video (colour, silent)
framed aluminium plate 122.5 x 217.5 cm
video 9 min 54 sec
Zhou Xiaohu is especially interested in misinterpretation, the misreading of images, and slippages of meaning. A number of works in the White Rabbit Collection are part of his History of Misunderstanding Project, in which he combines video with more traditional artforms. Two works in particular acknowledge the significant influence of Joseph Beuys on avant-garde Chinese art of the late 1980s. America Likes Me and Steppenwolf (both 2012) are based on a famous 1974 performance, I Like America and America Likes Me, in which Beuys was locked in a small New York gallery with a coyote for three days with a felt blanket and a pile of straw. During the performance, fifty copies of the Wall Street Journal were placed in the gallery; the coyote urinated on them. Beuys was transported between the gallery and the airport by ambulance, so he did not set foot on American soil except within the gallery space. Zhou’s replication of the iconic image of Beuys, hooded and swathed in a felt blanket, with his walking stick emerging like a symbolic shepherd’s crook, was intended to point out the possibilities of cross-cultural mutual misunderstanding: projected animations combined with a loosely painted image of the scene together construct a multilayered, unnerving ‘reality’ in which the coyote moves constantly around the still figure of ‘Beuys’.
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