A Second History is an ongoing project driven by Zhang Dali’s curiosity about the genealogy of the photographic image and its power to frame narratives, misrepresent and shape public perceptions. He researches historical archives such as books, periodicals and news publications to discover the history and significance of visual imagery in China. His findings have uncovered the role of photographs in state propaganda during the regime of Chairman Mao Zedong from 1949 to 1976. He reveals how “history” was constructed by the state through doctoring – via alteration or removal of pictorial elements – of historical documents. By illuminating the shades of grey spread between truth and falsehood, Zhang’s deeply layered works reveal photography’s subtle ability to deceive and distort reality.
About the Artist
Zhang Dali (b. 1963, China) studied at the Central Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Beijing. The Harbin native continues to live and practise his art in his hometown. Drawing off the city’s energy, Zhang’s art is often an emotive response to his environment. Be it the transient migrant labourers silently powering the nation’s growth, the ordinary civilian, or traditional architecture demolished as part of the state’s massive urban plans, Zhang places his subjects in the time capsule of emerging history.