Artwork

Zhang Peili
Brown book No. 1, 1988

  • Photography, ink on paper, a rubber surgical glove and its packaging, Ed. 5/5
  • Acquired in 2015

In Zhang Peili’s Brown Book No. 1, 1988, a painterly assignment is addressed in a conceptual and performative manner, and is distributed among a number of potential participants. The structure of this artwork is based upon the rationalization of structures of bureaucratic working processes. In total, nine photographs, framed letters and an original surgical glove with its packaging: the artwork documents an activity by the artist in which he sent letters to randomly selected students in which the recipients were required to paint the surgical gloves included with the letters. Gloves are a recurring motif in Zhang’s artworks, relating first and foremost to current state-imposed hygiene measures. Brown Book No. 1 marks Zhang’s official “departure” from painting, as he chose to shift his focus from painterly expertise to the conditions (verbal and infrastructural) under which art is produced. He refrains from postulating the approach of the end of the era of painting, instead causing painting to appear “obsolete” through a transfer into a new or changed model of experience or understanding.

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