top of page

Harmonious Society

artist residency, HangZhou, China

Christopher  Pelley   HARMONIOUS SOCIETY (HE XIE SHE HUI)  2012

Harmonious Society (HE XIE SHE HUI) was included in the exhibition "A Show of Hands" curated by Julie Sasse, Chief Curator at the Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, Arizona  September 21, 2013 - February 9, 2014.   

September, 2012 found me in the newly urbanized countryside outside of HangZhou, China, participating in an artist's residency organised by the Italian curator, Luca Zordan and hosted by SUN HOO at their business park still under construction.  While there, I watched the ebb and flow of the migrant construction workers responsible for building the glittering new China.  With much pointing and smiling and sputtering Mandarin I began taking photos of the workers hands forming characters in American Sign Language.  The 11 photos spelled out HE XIE SHE HUI, which is PINYIN for Harmonious Society.  (PINYIN is the phonetic spelling of Chinese characters with the Latin alphabet).   I displayed them propaganda style in window of a recently completed building. "Harmonious Society" is one of the government slogans issued to promote maintenance of stability in a society that is increasingly becoming unglued.


The project continued at SUN HOO with a lo-rez portrait of one of the migrant workers.  Each 'pixel' of the portrait was a 5cm x 5cm piece of painted paper.  Still unfinished at the time the residency ended, I installed it "as is" on the floor of an unoccupied building allowing the breezes blowing through the space to disrupted the image knowing that after time, like the workers, it will disappear.

Christopher Pelley  MIGRANT WORKER #1  2012 

bottom of page