“Cent Titres” were created between February and April 2021 during the period of epidemic prevention and control when physical distancing was still mandatory in France.
The artist invited 99 individuals to her studio, one after another, with the last participant being Duan herself. They sat facing each other, while Duan held their hands and drew their portraits on their palms. Afterwards, she instructed the participants to press their hands onto Plexiglas, leaving their portraits as an imprint.
The whole project consists of a series of performances, a three-channel video, and one hundred oil paintings imprinted on Plexiglas. The title, “Cent Titres,” is a play on words with “Sans Titre” (untitled) in French, signifying a state of absence and silence: These portraits are mouthless, shoulderless, and perforated, evoking a spectral presence where everyone wanders like phantoms. They visualize a sense of loss and amputation, teetering between unsettling anonymity and tangible individuality.
Under the background of the COVID-19 crisis and the societal “disconnection” that curtailed physical contact, the artist has chosen to explore this loss of connection and resist through her art. The project aims to serve as a reminder of the intrinsic value of close human contact.
Zhao Duan, born in 1981 in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, graduated from the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Toulouse in France in 2010. She currently works and lives in Paris and Noisy-le-Sec.
Zhao's artistic approach revolves around the notions of touch and experience. She employs a variety of mediums to explore and examine the triadic interplay among the body, action, and time. She favors a method of recording that she calls "imprints" to connect action and painting. Through simplified and repetitive movements, she aims to leave behind evocative makes and traces.
In 2012, Zhao Duan was awarded the Michel Journiac Prize in France. Her works are held in collections by numerous private and public institutions and have been widely exhibited throughout France and abroad, including the Museum of Hunting and Nature in Paris, the Mac Val Contemporary Art Museum in Paris, the Ming Contemporary Art Museum in Shanghai, WU Space in Shenyang, and the Museum Ludwig in Germany, among others.
Design: Zhen SHI, Yinhe Cheng
Publication date: October 2023
Limited edition of 500 copies
Printed in five-colors, gate-fold pages,
Hardcover with debossing and foil stamping, mounting with Papersense™ wood pulp washable paper
17.3 x 11.4 cm, 206 pages
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