Welcome to the Desert of the Real, 2010

Wang Jianwei
Welcome to the Desert of the Real, 2010
Five-channel colour HD video
Installation with sound
Dimensions variable
Installation view


Academically trained as a painter, Wang Jinawei was one of the first artists in China to embrace video as a legitimate medium for art. He examines the influence of current intellectual discourse and different media on contemporary art.

Wang uses diverse media, including film/video, theatrical performance and painting, to create a new language for art. An early video, Production, 1997, looks at how private interactions create personal space in a public realm such as a teahouse, then a fixture in Sichuan culture. Other works fragment narrative structure, presenting viewers with multiple parallel realities within the space of a single screen (Symptom, 2008) or placing them inside an eight-channel video installation that can only be seen one channel at a time (Making Do with Fakes, 2011).

His work has been exhibited extensively both within China and internationally, in solo exhibitions at Long March Space, Beijing (2021, 2015 and 2013); Guggenheim Museum, New York (2014–2015); Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2011); Today Art Museum, Beijing (2009); Zendai Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai (2008); Asia-Australia Arts Center, Sydney (2004) and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2002).

Group exhibitions include UCCA Beijing (2022); Tang Contemporary Art, Bangkok (2022); Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2018); Long March Space, Beijing (2016); Sharjah Biennial 11 (2013); Venice Biennale (2003); São Paulo Biennial (2002); dOCUMENTA 10, Kassel, Germany (1997) and Gwangju Biennale, Korea (1995).

His work was also included in the major exhibition Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World, Guggenheim Museum, New York (2017–2018), which travelled to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (2018) and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2018–2019). He was the inaugural selection of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Wang received a BFA from Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (now China Academy of Art) in Hangzhou, China (1988).

Born in 1958 in Suining village in China’s Sichuan province, Wang currently lives and works in Beijing.

SAF participation:
Sharjah Biennial 11


Jianwei, Wang

Welcome to the Desert of the Real

Wang Jianwei’s work is inspired by Slavoj Žižek’s book of the same name – a quote from the 1999 film The Matrix that echoes Jean Beaudrillard’s influential treatise Simulacra and Simulation.