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Exhibition: Peng Ke at Gallery Vacancy

Exhibition: Peng Ke at Gallery Vacancy

Grand City and Serendipitous Trésor by Peng Ke
June 5 – July 10, 2021
Gallery Vacancy in Shanghai, China

Gallery Vacancy is delighted to announce a series of recent works by Peng Ke in Grand City and Serendipitous Trésor, a solo exhibition running from June 5 to July 10, 2021. In this new body of works, Peng expands from her long-term exploration of urban experience and image production. Visualizing the underlying structure of the often hidden support system in the public sphere, the artist proposes a potential for agency to the subject of her photography. The exhibition will also include a series of new installations and handcrafted tin-came glass framed pieces, which extends Peng’s photographic practices. 

In Peng’s work, visual encounters with urban spaces are set against the impermanence and contingency of cities under China’s rapid urbanization. Public spaces such as parks and playgrounds are often evaded from our eyes. Yet, they are where people congregate and communicate, holding the structure of quotidian life together. Within these spaces, infrastructures and their objectness tend to be overlooked when we use them for practical purposes, whereas they become agents in Peng’s work. The artist generates meditations of mundane visual experiences by capturing moments of heightened perception. Illuminating the labor structure -- be it an artist studio, commercial display or urban construction -- the artist juxtaposes one end of production with the other in order to ruminate the unheeded systemic processes.  

Dolphins (disappeared), 2019-2021

The Cross That Supports You (with Ivano), 2021

A drawing by the ocean, trees, Showgun and I on the beach, 2019-2021

My Home is Your Home, 2021

Tulip Windows, 2019

A Dazzling Future, 2013-2021

Towards the Sun (the kite got taken down), 2020-2021

Piggie Trolley, Shanghai, 2021

Heart Again Becomes Private, 2021

Braveheart, 2021

Dolphins (disappeared) (2019-2021), one of the six works employing the tin-came glass technique, contrasts artificial landscapes with high-rise buildings in the background. Superimposed with the tin lines across the surface of the frame, the image finds rhythm in forms and iconography. Echoing the recurring net motif throughout Peng’s practice, the metal structure joining the glass pieces functions as a physical obstacle that simultaneously, retains an optical openness. The logic of visibility in support systems is further expressed through metaphors: In Piggie Trolley, Shanghai (2021), the plastic strings holding the toy trolley in place signify the often invisible yet crucial elements in a product’s final presentation; the themes of simulated nature and altered functionality are materialized in the installation, Gesellschaft (2021), where Peng converts a door to a table by attaching four legs decorated with elements such as concrete rings, crystal dragonflies, and knitted rugs. By appropriating the door, a utilitarian object from the artist’s studio, the work contemplates the productive mechanism in creative space. While objects in the constructed landscape reveal the mimetic representation of reality, Peng’s work highlights their thingness by suspending them from original contexts, designating her subjects as the manifestations of their participation in the urban system.

Through her practice, Peng Ke attends to engender the relationship between universality and individuality and urges the viewer to introspect about the way we see and experience our inhabiting system. As Boris Groys asserts: "Artists take responsibility for individual things and their visibility," what lies at the heart of these works is Peng’s impetus to take responsibility for rendering unseen actants visible. The photographs are documentations of her mindscape -- they create a temporally and spatially extended visual realm which absorbs the viewer. The works offer an expansive and intriguing glimpse of the world around us, reminding us of our symbiotic relationship with the city.

Text by Ellen Yiwei Wang

Peng Ke was born in Changsha, Hunan in 1992, and grew up in Shenzhen. She now lives and works between Shanghai and Los Angeles. Recent solo exhibitions include: Agoramaniac, Jimei x Arles International Photography Festival, Xiamen, 2019; Leaving Speed, Lianzhou Museum of Photography, Lianzhou, 2018; I’ve seen many people although they’ve never seen me, Gallery Vacancy, Shanghai, 2018; and The Secured, Salt Projects, Beijing, 2018. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at Guangzhou Airport Biennial, Guangzhou; Gallery Weekend Beijing, Beijing; Format Festival, Derby; Beijing Photo Biennial, Beijing. Peng was also awarded the Abigail Cohen Fellowship by the Magnum Foundation, Fondazione EMGdotART Prize, Hahnemühle New Talent Photography Award; and was nominated for the Huayu Youth Award, Foam Paul Huf Award, and Jimei x Arles Discovery Award.

For further inquiries, please contact +86 21 6241 1239 Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm, or email

View Exhibition Website

Images courtesy the artist and Gallery Vacancy