ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, 09|17|2011 – 02|05|2012
Ondrej Brody & Kristofer Paetau
Ondrej Brody, * 1980 in Prague (CZ), lives and works in Prague and
Kristofer Paetau, * 1972 in Borgå (FI), lives and works in Helsinki (FI)

Wang Bin Torture in Commercial Quality, High Quality and Museum Quality, 2010

Our perception usually distinguishes between images from the mass media and artistic images. If we experience the former only as carriers of information or feelings that are to be rapidly consumed, the latter possess a value in themselves, which is generated by a particular artistic intention or a complex process of production. Since the advent of modernity, this supposedly clear-cut order of images has itself become a subject of art. When, for example, the transient images of the mass media are suddenly reproduced with techniques that we find appropriate only in art – that is, framed and hung on a wall in a museum – this order teeters and, with it, the standards according to which we judge images as relevant, unique, or beautiful.

With this in mind, the artist duo Ondrej Brody & Kristofer Paetau commissioned a Chinese painter by e-mail to reproduce a photo of the corpse of Wang Bin, a member of Falun Gong, who was supposed to have died while under arrest – and in the different degrees of “commercial”, “high” and “museum” quality. Juxtaposed, the pictures illustrate the arbitrariness with which craftsman’s production becomes the measure of value. They also illustrate the power relations inherent in images and art: between censorship and voyeurism, between art as a means of enlightenment and as a market commodity, between showing and being shown. (JB)


Wang Bin Torture in Commercial Quality, High Quality and Museum Quality
, 2010