Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Zhao Bandi is obsessed with pandas. Zhao graduated from the oil painting department at the Central Academy of Fine Arts but transitioned into performance work after exclaiming, “painting is dead”. He then adopted the panda as icon in his installation and performance work. Zhao Bandi sparked controversy after his protest of Jack Black’s Hollywood Blockbuster “Kung Foo Panda”, suing DreamWorks and Paramount Pictures for their use of the panda in the movie. More recently, he has created a panda-themed fashion show, where a varied group of migrant workers, prostitutes, fashion fans, and beggars all walked the catwalk in panda-inspired attire. The diverse group was meant to represent 33 different social classes within China. The local media called the show “low brow” and “vulgar”, citing that it was an insult to a national treasure. His work has been included the Venice Biennale, where he created an anti-smoking campaign, equipped with a panda in toe. He has also hosted his own Panda Olympics in Bern, Switzerland, where they allowed him to transform their logo of a black bear into a panda. Currently, Zhao Bandi is creating a panda-themed blockbuster of his own to counter “Kung Foo Panda”, which he describes as “genuinely representing and reflecting life in contemporary China through a love story”. He has opened two makeshift stores in gallery spaces in China to sell panda-inspired t-shirts and stuffed animals. In Shanghai, the Bandi Panda store was open for one day as part of Intrude’s public art project at Zendai MOMA. Another store is currently open at Shanghart in its 798 space in Beijing. It is unpredictable what Zhao Bandi will do next, but we can bet that it will include pandas.