“I want to create more artworks which can make people think.”
Born: Shanghai, 1974. Lives and works in Shanghai and Beijing.
Chen Hangfeng’s themes are as diverse as the media he employs, but they centre on social issues, from the craze for brand names—which he mocked in a series of traditional-style papercuts titled Logomania (2005)—to the growing tension in China between individualism and party control. Invasive Species: Vegetables (2010) was prompted by the decision of Shanghai officials to ban the practice of planting private vegetable plots on public land. Many residents of government housing blocks flout the rule, stealing out at night to tend their secret gardens. In Chen Hangfeng’s light-box installation, vegetables like bok choy, carrot, and eggplant—photographed in one of the illegal plots—become sinister aliens with minds of their own, taking over all available space and smothering “legal” plants. In a text dialogue “monitored” by authorities, they gloat over their triumph and the perfect conditions their unknowing human enablers have created. “I grow wherever I can and I wipe out everything else,” says a towel gourd. The vegetables’ behaviour raises a dual question: do they resemble humans more in their destructiveness, or in their rejection of confinement and political control?