Xu Zhen (born in Shanghai, China, 1977), is a contemporary artist with an insatiable appetite for global information, and the unique ability to produce work across multiple platforms and in nearly every medium imaginable. Xu graduated from the Shanghai Arts and Crafts Institute in 1996. Xu came of age within the Shanghai underground art scene in the 1990s, and from the beginning of his career has engaged with a dark and ironic humor that hinges simultaneously on the shock and amusement at contemporary society's certainty and sophistication, yet also its ignorance. By 2009 Xu had become frustrated with the role of the singular artist within society and founded the company MadeIn, an enterprise and workshop dedicated to contemporary cultural creation. Under his new alias, Xu continues to reveal and upend the most ubiquitous and seemingly impervious societal and cultural assumptions, systems, and structures. His diverse works share the capacity to question the beliefs, conventions, and constructs that govern society, while also positing new possibilities and pathways to engage with, and understand the world.
Xu Zhen won the Chinese Contemporary Art Award in 2004, and was the youngest Chinese artist to participate in the Venice Biennale, in both 2001 and 2005. He has exhibited widely in major international museums and festivals, including the Venice Biennale (2001, 2005); The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2004); International Center of Photography (2004); Mori Art Museum (2005); MoMA PS1 (2006); Tate Liverpool (2007); Hayward Gallery (2012); and the Lyon Biennale (2013). His mid-career retrospective, entitled Xu Zhen: A MadeIn Company Production, was presented at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, in 2014.
Photo by Thomas Fuesser