At the entrance of the exhibition a powerful work titled Brownian Motion 2 (2012) offers a vivid reminder of the plight of many Chinese migrant workers. This life-size body cast of a construction worker caught in scaffolding memorializes the country’s nameless laborers, and stands in stark contrast to the subdued tone of the rest of the show. His latest series of white fiberglass sculptures, “The Squares,” are life-size, slightly disheveled figures at rest, often with pigeons perched on their heads or shoulders.
These works recall the monuments to public figures found in many Chinese city squares—but instead Zhang memorializes the common man. “I wanted to express the nonexistence of the people; they are in a no-place. They have no soul and no mind. The birds are like little spirits landing on their heads and bodies, but they can’t change their circumstances,” Zhang said. “‘The Squares’ represent a collective absence of life and awareness.”