The October Gallery in London is currently showing the work of Chinese artist Huang Xu. Huang Xu’s Fragment series features plastic shopping bags in a haunting, yet aesthetically pleasing way by pairing the bags against a contrasting black background. The aesthetic nature of the Fragment series is countered by the scientific precision of the image’s creation. The artist documents plastic bags with a 3-D scanner, a technique typically used by archaeologists. He then manipulates the resulting three-dimensional description of the plastic bag to achieve the image’s final result as photographic print.
The large scale of Huang Xu’s c-prints of discarded shopping bags physically confront the viewer with the reality of capitalist excess. The bags both literally and metaphorically represent the waste of our society. The transcendent quality of the Fragment series seem to evoke the inorganic nature of plastic, which lasts for hundreds of years in our land fills before beginning to decay. Huang Xu’s work is perhaps even more relevant to China, where a relatively recent shift toward capitalism and a huge population have made plastic waste a contentious environmental issue.
Huang Xu graduated from the Beijing Academy of Fine Arts in 1991. He currently lives and works in Beijing as a professional photographer. He most recently exhibited at the Arc One Gallery in Melbourne Australia in 2008 and founded the Big Basin Studio in 2003. Huang Xu’s London debut exhibition will be on view at October Gallery through 18 April 2009.