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Student Showcase Archive
Show RCA 2019

Wei Zhou

Show RCA work

Major project:

The Rear-View Mirror of the Spectator

'What is about cinema is what we don’t see.'  – André Bazin

That can be understood as saying that cinema has been used in the entertainment industry as a spectator's escape from reality. The reality they would choose not to look at. By presenting pure entertainment, cinema has been deployed to support social oppression by denying the very existence of this oppression.

That quote from Bazin can also be understood as saying that what cinema is about is what we see on the screen but don’t know what we are seeing. My first encounter with the film Olympia – The Beauty of the Nation (1936) by Leni Riefenstahl was during secondary school. Some classmates and I watched it on a pirated CD. Without knowing that film to be a Nazi propaganda film, its political aims and historical context, we were spontaneously amazed by the beautiful athletes' bodies on screen and embraced the very extraordinary aesthetic power which the moving-image captures. Until the next moment, when Hitler's clapping and his cheering face were shown on screen, then I was slightly alarmed, but the visual stimulation and glorified Wagner music were stronger and pulled me into the pleasant spectating of the film. Afterwards, when I was told it was a Nazi propaganda film, I felt immediately ashamed, shame for every minute of my enjoyment of that film.

By deciphering the power of that film, and looking at the passive spectatorship in cinema, this project is not about breaking down the fourth wall, by including the audience's voice in a film scene, or seeking for an equal voice between filmmaker and audience, but is instead putting the spectator themselves up on stage. When someone walks into the dark cinema room and is ready to be entertained, he sits down in the very familiar and comfortable red chair. Would they realise the screen and the red chair as a whole are a set up, when they shortly hear people’s whispers from the speaker behind them? Would they still choose to fall into the ambush if they knew of its existence? Or would they have a moment of confusion and doubt about their position in the red sofa?


  • School

    School of Arts & Humanities


    MA Contemporary Art Practice


    Contemporary Art Practice: Public Sphere Pathway

  • Contact

  • Previous degrees

  • BA Fine Art, Central Academy of Fine Art (CAFA)
  • Exhibitions

  • 'Cooked and Raw', The Independents Biennial, Liverpool, 2018; 'States of Public FACT', Liverpool, 2018; 'Work-in-progress Show', Royal College of Art, London, 2018; 'Triple Parade Contemporary Jewellery Exhibition', Tianjin and Beijing, 2016; 'Mazee Graduate Show', Marzee Galarie, Nijmegen, Netherlands, 2016; Ubi Gallery Topyoung 2016 Contemporary Exhibition, Ubi Gallery, Beijing, 2016; Hint @ CAFA Degree Show, Central Acadamy of Fine Arts, Beijing, 2016; 'Coffee & Tee', Marzee Galari, Nijmegen, Netherlands, 2016; 'Identity', The Danish Cultural Institution, Beijing, 2015; 'Love', UBI Gallery, Beijing, 2015
  • Awards

  • Marzee Graduate Prize 2016, 2016; Ubi Gallery Topyoung, 2016; Excellent Graduate Project, CAFA, 2016; The Second Prize of Student Excellent Work, CAFA, 2014; MA Scholarship awarded by the China Scholarship Council (CSC)
  • Collaborators

  • Credit for voice over actors: Anthony, Demelza Toy Toy, Toby Tobias, Lingran Yang, Henrik Hasell, Nikki, Wei
Royal College of Art