Synthetic Reality

   Windows Media File, Broadband, 256K
   Switch for ISDN version

video installation, double screen projection, two channels, sound, 15 min.

Zhang Peili’s Last Words is a remaking of old Chinese patriotic movies. He extracted numerous scenes of communist heroes gasping their last words before dying, from those 1950s and 1960s revolutionary fictions, which were once the only entertainment during the Cultural Revolution and almost every scene of which was deeply rooted in the memories of the generation from that time. He then assembled the extractions into a loop of 15 minutes. Zhang Peili screened his movie in a dual projection format; one shows the normal sequential play of the assemblage, while the other show is a reversed play of the same assemblage, simultaneously. Viewers see the heroes dying on one screen and rising from the dead on the other, which is an incisive pastiche of a well-known phrase from the revolutionary era – “heroes are immortal”. Last Words interrogates, in an ironic fashion, the patriotic discourses and semiotics, which have been woven into the very fabric of the modern Chinese politics and culture. Zhang Peili examines and re-tailors the representations of heroes of a recent past, and is apparently aimed at upsetting our firmly settled memories. And indeed those fragments that used to be so familiar to us reappear in Last Words with an inexplicable sense of absurdity and emptiness, as a long cycle of death, an endless process of dying and undying. The strange kind of death, the cinematic death and resurrection manifest an intriguing paradox of cinema, in which one dies thousands of times and yet one never really dies.


Zhang Peili - Biography / some other works