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Zhang Qing, The People's Secretary, 2011. Photo by Stephen King.

The People's Secretary (2010)

The People's Secretary (2010) is an artistic challenge to state power; a single-channel installation inspired by Chinese Communist Party propaganda and filmed using closed circuit television cameras. By re-engineering propagandist techniques and the aesthetics of surveillance systems, the work becomes an unnerving reflection of promotional messaging and a nod to how much of human life is captured, audited, or otherwise scrutinised each day.

Within the context of belief, Qing's work operates as a subversive piece of theatre. By encouraging the viewer to question whether the scenes before them are real or not, the artist throws the ball back into the spectator's court. As the disconnect between the text and the image becomes more absurd, we are encouraged to question the authenticity of these acts. By challenging our automated default position to 'suspend disbelief', Qing seeks to encourage a healthy scepticism. For without doubt, power holders are able to manipulate not only how we are represented, but also, our understanding of our selves.