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About the Photographer
Chinese, b. 1960
Zhou Xiaohu works with photography, video, sculpture, animation, and performance to explore institutions of power and group dynamics. For his multi-media project, "Concentration Training Camp," Zhou created an eight-part video installation involving multiple projections, still photography, and video monitors. The project depicts employees of a fictional American-owned company called "Amway," undergoing elaborate job training and initiation rituals. The workers are seen undergoing training, including activities like trust falls and the telephone game. They engage in motivational drills, yelling phrases like "victory victory makes good winning" and "I want to become boss unnecessary to work." While the participants are undergoing elaborate training practices, they appear disorientated and stiffly upright, but are upside down photographs of people hanging upside down from a hidden suspension system. Zhou’s playful and humorous subversion of gravity, coupled with the military-like drills full of slogans that are uncannily similar to communist propaganda, provocatively exposing the relationship between global economics and consumerism. The piece satirically critiques current working conditions in China while calling attention to American companies that recruit globally for employment.
For "Crazy English Camp" (2010), Zhou explores Chinese social behaviors that mistranslate and misinterpret western marketing concepts. For the performance, Zhou invited a teacher from the real company, “Crazy English,” to conduct a lesson at the Tate Modern Urban Hall in London in 2010. The “Crazy English” company specializes in teaching English to large Chinese audiences in football stadiums and auditoriums by repeatedly shouting phrases. By bringing the lesson to an English-speaking country, Zhou sought to turn the participants’ native language into something alien and unfamiliar.
For another piece, "The Party Camp," Xiaohu invited local and international guests to perform during the opening of an exhibition in Shanghai called "Double Infinity." The 30-40 participants were provided with remote devices to guide them during the opening unbeknownst to other visitors in the gallery. The devices prompted them to perform simple, but potentially awkward, gestures, such as raising their hands, stopping in place, or walking backwards.
Zhou Xiaohu graduated from the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts, China (1989). He has exhibited at the BizArt Center, Shanghai, the Walsh Gallery, Chicago, Ethan Cohen Fine Arts, New York, the Tate Modern, London, the Long March Space, Beijing, and the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts, in Chongqing, China. Xiaohu lives and works in Shanghai.