Chinese artist Cheng Ran and French fashion designer and artist Cyril Duval (working under alias Item Idem) created video work Joss for New York based magazine VISIONAIRE’s online project 30DAYS30ARTISTS, 2013. The work is characteristic of Cheng’s practice because of the combination of a socio-critical perspective that references the controversy of globalising Chinese culture and cultural policy with highly stylised aesthetics of art cinema. Paper, plastic and tin models of consumer luxury goods and symbols of globalised mass consumption are set alight and destroyed with explosives. The scenes are filmed in extreme slow motion in a highly stylised frame, transforming the erratic, violent acts into choreographed works of beauty. This effect is enhanced by the work’s soundtrack; Franz Schubert’s Ave Maria (1825). The composition bestows Joss with reverential qualities and transforms each act of destruction into a sacrificial performance that poses questions about the state of identity and religion in relation to consumerism and label-consciousness in contemporary China. The artwork belongs to the Déjà Vu collection curated by LEAP LABS.
Cheng Ran lives and works in Hangzhou, China, and Amsterdam, The Netherlands.