With their uniformly smooth faces, empty, fixed gazes and clonelike appearance, Xiaogang Zhang’s portraits depict the homogeneity of a society where collectivity counts more than individuality. Nothing seems to distinguish the children from their parents, or, even more disturbing, the wives from their husbands. The individual is reduced to a fraught, interchangeable clone. The recurrent features of these black-and-white portraits are the red figure of a male child and, above all, a discreet yet omnipresent red “bloodline”, an unbreakable conduit linking both the members of a family together and individuals to the community. On each of the impassive faces that allow no emotion to show, a reddish patch in the form of a scar or skin graft seems to represent a wound or inner suffering.
Text : Carole Vantroys.
Translation : Pamela Hargreaves.