On the occasion of Artissima 2023, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo presents Vestiges, a solo exhibition by Peng Zuqiang, winner of the illy Present Future 2022 Prize, the twenty-third edition of the initiative promoted by illycaffe. Vestiges is the artist's first solo exhibition in Italy and is conceived as a new stage in his long-term investigation into the affective meaning of stories, bodies and language. In this context, the artist presents two new film installations dedicated to the themes of memory and contagion in relation to the production and diffusion of images.
Within Vestiges, the affectivity and fragility of bodies are the lenses with which to observe and access the sphere of memory, both individual and collective. Memory is not understood by the artist so much as an archive, ordered according to efficiency criteria to preserve and consult information, but rather as a set of traces, often ambiguous. In the words of the philosopher Paul Ricoeur, memory is the "presence of an absent thing", a substance that is made alive to attribute meanings to the present. Peng Zuqiang investigates this paradoxical regime of (in)visibility, dissociating memory from its abstract and mental status, to rewrite it in body and matter. The memories that emerge in Vestiges' works alternate images of violence with intense emotional feelings.
They come from confusing space-time coordinates, between the pandemic period and today. To traverse these reminiscences strewn with wounds and voids, the artist adopts an anti-narrative register, characterized by an opaque and fragmentary expressive language. Opacity becomes a tool to escape the production of traumatic and therefore contagious images, but also a political strategy to avoid identification. The analogue support, a distinctive feature of his artistic practice, is directly questioned as a medium and subjected to a mnemonic production process.