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Qian Zhao

A Field Guide, Pic of Pig

Filter Photo is pleased to present A Field Guide, Pic of Pig, a solo exhibition by Qian Zhao.

In A Field Guide, artist Qian Zhao uses associative, introspective, and often disorienting imagery as a metaphor for cultural displacement, which began as a response to regular long distance travel between San Francisco and Shanghai. A long-term project that Zhao has been working on since 2016, it focuses on human behavior, storytelling, and the translation process between images, different subjects, and their meanings. The "guide" is not intended to make things clear in their original form; the intention is to deviate from the beginning and ask demanding questions of the viewer about the very nature of photography in contemporary culture.


For this iteration of A Field Guide, Pic of Pig, Qian Zhao presents a linear sequence of unaltered photographs of pigs taken on a farm. The presentation is intended to question the medium of photography itself and get at the core identity of photography as a medium that straddles everyday use in popular culture, as well as contemporary art. For Zhao, the medium is the image and he acknowledges that Pic of Pig may seem like a particularly risky venture, but this seemingly risky venture is exactly what he wants to discuss.


The term "field guide" originally referred to a manual for identifying plants and animals in natural and simulated environments. The classified plants and animals, as the most primitive metaphors and symbols, become an intercession between humans and our origins and are always the object of projection. Other iterations of Zhao’s A Field Guide have included A Field Guide to Lucid Dream, A Field Guide to Flatten a Mountain, and A Field Guide to Drawing Teeth. Deliberately disparate and often chaotic in their presentation, this exhibition includes a slide show of previous Field Guide installations to provide context for this new adaptation that asks us to consider the way we consume imagery today, as well as all of the other pressures to consume in our capitalist society.


Qian Zhao is a visual artist living in China. He focuses on human activities and the environment around him. Qian then translates this information to the flat image, distorting the original meaning in the process. He has had solo exhibitions at Lianzhou Photography Museum (Lianzhou, China), Houston Center for Photography (Houston, USA), 001 Gallery (Rome, Italy), and Reminders Photography Stronghold Gallery (Tokyo, Japan). His work has appeared in group exhibitions in Rathfarnham Castle (Dublin, Ireland) Kala Art Institute (Berkeley, USA). French Pavilion (Zagreb, Croatia), Museum of Contemporary Art (Zagreb, Croatia), Ogden Museum of Southern Art (New Orleans, USA), UCCA Center for Contemporary Art (Beijing, China), K11 Art Foundation (Shenyang, China), Points Center for Contemporary Art (Kunshan, China), Zhejiang Art Museum (Hangzhou, China) and Today Art Museum (Beijing, China).


Qian Zhao has also shown in PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai, Art Beijing Fair, FORMAT International Photography Festival, Unseen Photo Fair, Singapore International Photo Festival, Athens Photo Festival, Copenhagen Photo Festival, and FOTOFESTIWAL.


Qian Zhao has received fellowships for residencies at Points Center for Contemporary Art, The Cow House Studio, Vermont Studio Center, and Kala Art Institute. In 2017, his first monograph Offcut, the edge was published by Jiazazhi Press.

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This exhibition is partially sponsored by The Illinois Arts Council Agency and a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.

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Exhibition DatesMay 14 – June 12, 2021
Location: Filter Space | 1821 W. Hubbard St., Ste. 207
Gallery Hours: Monday – Friday, 11 am – 5 pm | Saturday, 12 - 4 pm

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