Zhang Peili


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2-channel video (colour, sound)
6 min 32 sec
In Happiness (2006), a 6-minute, 2-channel video, Zhang has appropriated old film footage. On one screen, characters from the 1975 film In the Shipyard appear to be giving rousing revolutionary speeches, but in fact they are uttering ordinary phrases removed from their context, such as, ‘Right, OK’; ‘What?’; ‘We are waiting for you’; or, simply, ‘Comrades…’. On the second screen, in the pauses between speech, crowds greet these meaningless words with the rapturous applause that once punctuated the speeches of Mao Zedong. Zhang has said of this work, ‘The subject matter of the films from the 1970s has special meaning for me, representing utopia. Its romantic flavour and spirit are beyond personal sentiment and bring forth comparisons with aspects of our lives today.’ By creating montages from these remnants of public cinematic memory, Zhang Peili removes their temporal structure and denies the possibility of a heroic narrative.
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