Zhao Zhao
Cobblestone, 2007

Zhao Zhao is a politically-minded concept artist. A student of Ai Weiwei, he belongs to the younger generation of Chinese artists. Zhao Zhao’s minimalist/conceptual language makes the influence of the dominant political power structures palpably apparent through seemingly small gestures – seemingly trivial interventions by the artist in his direct environment, intended to destabilize these vast systems of order.
The early artwork entitled Cobblestone (previously exhibited by the artist in 2008, during the Beijing Olympic Games) consists of two photographs that record a performance from the year 2007, in which Zhao Zhao used an insoluble aircraft component adhesive to glue a cobblestone to the paving in Tiananmen Square. The square is considered to represent China’s political heart. This glued-on, protruding cobblestone appears in a vast sea of ordered, standardized cobblestones: it is a minimal unevenness that might be described as an ‘affront to order’, as an individual irregular element that does not fit in. The guardians of order in the square greeted it with puzzlement: what did it mean, and how should they respond appropriately to this infraction?

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