A solo exhibition by the artist CHOU Ching-Hui
“We are all imprisoned in a zoo, living a restricted life. Society is a cage, and we are staring with a smile at other encaged.”
Animal Farm is based on Chou five-year-long photography project that involved a large team and significant funding. In this project, Chou turns to zoos as his muses and sites of actual photo making, where vivid tableaus are created to suggest the sumptuous yet often baffled life of modern civilization. Theatrical sets were fabricated against the zoo environment, where the actors played their assigned roles as photos were taken at dawn and dusk. By so doing, Chou inserted surreal theatrical scenes and lifelike vernacular spaces into artificial enclosures in which wild animals were brought together and domesticated. Absurdity and displacement were emphasized as the artist situated humans among animals that were reminiscent of specimens. The home now looked like a cage, while the border between man-made interiors and the wilderness became blurred.
While creating this so-called “directed photography” that is grand and theatrical in style and serves as a form of social discourse, Chou has also made close-up, sympathetic portraits for individual character on his sets. These secular characters were styled in fashionable clothing and looks from the 70s, revealing the artist’s particular, nostalgic feelings for a certain belle époque in the past. The representation of their clear visages and postures as ordinary people, on the other hand, contrasted the inescapable yet gradually numbing human condition in the contemporary social and cultural environment they lived in.