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Transcript: Zheng Guogu interview

Artist interview - Zheng Guogu

(Original language: Cantonese)

ZHENG GUOGU: At that time, I had finished the structural plan for Canton Express and allocated the spaces among the artists. There was one leftover space under the stairs that wasn’t being used so I thought, why not use it myself?

I saw how some people from Yangjiang traded goods, through Hong Kong, such as handling knives and kitchen utensils. All they had was a little sample room, but even with just one person, it seemed like they could do big international business. A sample, a label, and a message would be sent to Hong Kong, and international orders were received through Hong Kong. I thought, ‘This is real globalisation!’

So I presented this Yangjiang style of trading. I made a tiny sample room, a space that could also do big international orders. Later I found it quite amusing. The work is actually a visualisation of the concept ‘Made in China’. At that time, the whole world was ‘Made in China’.

We can put it like this: US army knives were made in a certain factory in Yangjiang. At the same time, Iraqi army knives were made in the same factory. The only difference was the delivery address. These parcels were sent to the US and the Iraqi parcels were sent to Iraq. The knives were used on the same battlefield. Maybe the US army knives were more expensive, and the quality was better, and the Iraqi army knives were cheaper and the quality was poor. When they met on the battlefield, the Iraqis lost. But the knives was produced by the same factory. It was all made in China. I think this phenomenon is really funny. Through these types of business transactions, we can see how politics, wars, and current affairs work on an international level.

Very few people could go to Venice at the time. Very few people could go there in person. Also, a lot of people just went to look at the work for fun. They weren’t genuinely studying them. Actually, things are still like this in the art world. Very few people truly study the works or think they’re important. Very few people truly understand them.

That’s why this M+ exhibition, as far as I’m concerned, is like a mirage. It is very meaningful to be able to restage the exhibition for the public. It can make an even deeper impression. It is rare to be able to see works on site. For many works, once they’ve left the exhibition venue, you can only experience them through photos or word of mouth, it’s hard to feel their presence.

It’s important for viewers to experience the actual setting for themselves. It’s good to have first-hand experience. When Hong Kong audiences go to experience this, it should be very interesting.

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