Christopher Pelley: Back from China

11/30/2012 Christopher Pelley: Back from China


Christopher Pelley has just returned from an artist residency in China where he lived and worked at an active construction site about 100 miles south of Shanghai.  Just a few years ago, the area was rural and agricultural but today there is new construction as far as the eye can see.  This rapid expansion is part of the Chinese government’s desire to place less emphasis on the major cities and put more resources into developing the countryside. 

The focus of Pelley’s work during his residency was the construction worker and the buildings.  In China, the construction workers are generally migrants who move across the country from job to job; similar to the migrant farmers here in the US.  The workers live in less than desirable conditions in temporary housing that is set up on the construction sites.


"This project is a continuation of my interest in sign language.  I photographed workers hands doing American Sign Language gestures.  I then placed these photos in a window of a still unoccupied building to spell out the PINYIN version of the ubiquitous communist party catch phrase "harmonious society".  (PINYIN is the phonetic spelling of chinese characters, using the western alphabet)"


Pictured Above: MIGRANT WORKER #1

"Each "pixel" of this digitized image of a construction worker is a 5cm x 5cm piece of painted paper.  Unfinished when the residency ended, I installed it "as is" on the floor of one of the vacant spaces.  Breezes blowing through the space slowly disrupted the installation, and soon it will disappear, like the workers."

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