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Zhou Xiaohu | Utopian theatre 2006 | 11-channel video, fired clay and mixed media installation | 189.5 x 456cm (diam.) (installed) | Purchased 2007. The Queensland Government’s Gallery of Modern Art Acquisitions Fund | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

Zhou Xiaohu ‘Utopian theatre’ 2006

Zhou Xiaohu’s videos, animations, sculpture and paintings engage with politics, mass media and consumer culture. While embracing technology in his work, Zhou also comments on its malign manifestations.

In Utopian theatre 2006, miniature clay figures enact history-making scenes that have been transmitted to the world through the media of television and the internet. Each is modelled as a miniature theatre or movie set and accompanied by a television monitor, showing the events in claymation. The sculptural scenarios include a courthouse in session, a United Nations committee hearing, and the busy Pudong district of downtown Shanghai. Among the ‘televised’ scenes are the calamity at the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001; an assassination in full view of a legion of camera crews; and a lone helicopter struggling to save a rural community from a landslide. Centring on issues of surveillance and the mass media, Utopian theatre 2006 is critical of the blind consumption of momentous events as public entertainment and conscious of technology’s role in conveying simplified representations of the world.

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