Lives and Works: Amsterdam and Beijing
Ni Haifeng was born in 1964 in Zhoushan, China. In 1986, he graduated from Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts, now the China Academy of Art. He currently lives and works between Amsterdam and Beijing.
Ni Haifeng’s practice draws from an interest in cultural systems of exchange, return, language, and production. Through photography, video and installation, he explores the simultaneous creation and obliteration of meaning while drawing attention to the cyclical movements of people, products, and goods that are often reflective of patterns of colonialism and globalisation. Aims to subvert the status quo and counteract preconceived notions of art are, in Ni’s words, an effort towards reaching a ‘zero degree of meaning’. The concept of uselessness, seen in the desire to offset ‘the production of the useful’ that is central to the operative conditions of consumerism and the ‘dominant economic order’, plays a key role within Ni’s practice, lending his works a distinct political and social dimension.
After graduating from the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts in 1986, Ni joined RED 70%, BLACK 25%, WHITE 5%, a group of artists working with conceptual art and nonsense text. These early works focused on acts of writing, re-appropriations and deconstructed forms of language. Since the mid-1990s, after emigrating to Europe, his work has acquired additional layers that refer to his new identity as a Chinese immigrant, and to issues of (post-)colonialism and ’otherness’. For example, Ni created a series of installations that featured objects and tableaux suspended from knotted ropes. Precariousness and instability are dominant factors in these works, as is the persistent sense of weight, balance, and a feeling of danger elicited in the viewer. In recent years, overt and covert references to manufacturing and production have formed recurring themes within Ni’s artistic practice.
Ni Haifeng’s work has been exhibited throughout Asia and Europe in selected solo exhibitions, including Asynchronous, Parallel, Tautological, et cetera…(2015), Pearl Lam Galleries, Hong Kong, China; Project for Ignatius (2012), St. Ignatius Gymnasium, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (Public work); Vive la Difference (2010), Gallery Lumen Travo, Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Of the Departure and the Arrival (2009), Teemtower, Guangzhou; Para-Production (2008), Joy Art, Beijing; The Return of the Shreds (in collaboration with Kitty Zijlmans), Stedelijk Museum De Lakenhal in Scheltema, Leiden, the Netherlands; and Ni Haifeng: Xeno-Writings (2004), Museum Het Domein, Sittard, the Netherlands.
Selected group shows include Dai Hanzi: 5000 Artists (2014), Witte de With, Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, the Netherlands; Manifesta 9—The Deep of the Modern (2012), Waterscai, Genk, Belgium; Silent Writings (2009), Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton, Paris, France; and Begegnung mit den Anderen (Encounter with Others) (1992), K18, Kassel, Germany. His works have been collected by the M+ in the West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong, China; Guangdong Museum of Art in Guangzhou, China; Museum Huis Marseille in Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Museum De Lakenhal in Lakenhal, the Netherlands; Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia; and other public collections.
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