Wang Du

The Chinese artist Wang Du, who lives and works in France, takes us back through our recent media history. By presenting us with images culled from the press and transformed into an array of objects, the artist makes the afterlife of the news image into something worthy of our contemplation and experience. Flipping through a wide range of publications – from the French daily Libération to a Russian illustrated news weekly, from a Chinese military review to the US weekly TIME – Wang Du selects images like an international editor while aiming for a move from the newsroom to the exhibition room. His choices appear to be as egalitarian and levelling as the popular press itself: Chirac is as likely to become a sculptural form as an unidentified teenager looting a computer. Despite Wang Du’s training as a sculptor, the artist insists that his creations are not sculptures but rather ‘three-dimensional images.’ This corrective underscores yet another shift – not just in the images but also in the viewers’ experience of them. The sense of control afforded by the two-dimensional page rapidly evaporates in Wang Du’s three-dimensional (and often extra-large) images, which hardly fit under one’s arm, let alone into a scrapbook. By expanding dimension and scale, the artist pushes the news image into fantasy, giving it the infinite expandability of a Disney character, which can appear as both a flat cartoon and a stuffed toy, miniature and gigantic.

With World Markets, 2004, Wang Du transforms the market figures from a crumpled Wall Street Journal into a gigantic stainless steel form – a shift that downsizes the viewer while reflecting the colossal magnitude of the market’s impact on the world.

(This text is an excerpt from “The Image on Parade” by Jennifer Allen originally published in the monograph catalogue “Wang Du”, Palais de Tokyo & Editions Cercle d’Art, Paris, 2004).

Jennifer Allen


"The Business" (2003) (5 tirages, résine polyester et acrylique)
Photo: Wang Du. Courtesy: Galerie Baronian-Francey.