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Demolition (Ping'an Avenue Beijing)

© Zhang Dali. Courtesy Eli Klein Fine Art.

Demolition (Ping'an Avenue Beijing)

Artist: Zhang Dali (Born in Harbin, China, 1963)
Culture: Chinese
Date: 1999
Medium: Chromogenic print
35 3/8 x 23 5/8 inches (89.9 x 60 cm)
Classification: Photograph
Credit Line: Museum purchase with funds provided by The Lori and David Arthur Fund for Asian Art
Label Text:As a documentary record of a site that no longer remains, Zhang Dali's Demolition (Ping'an Avenue Beijing) is a sculptural and photographic comment on the ongoing urban redevelopment of China over the past few decades. Zhang's subjects are walls that have been slated for demolition, where he paints a head and chisels out its interior contour to reveal views into the distance. In this image, a solitary tree rises above a garden wall, suggesting that both will be casualties of future development once the wall has been entirely destroyed.

Zhang has said that his work does not express a simple nostalgia for the past. Rather, it acts as a visual intervention to weigh the cost of financial opportunity against the value of historical patrimony; puncturing an ancient wall highlights the fragility of things that once seemed so permanent. By photographing his work, he also archives the places that have been erased from the urban landscape. Zhang’s choice of a carved-out head emphasizes the effects of such demolitions on the human psyche and the deep connection humans share with nature and their surrounding environments.

Object number: 2008.10.1