At the end of the Eighties, Chen Zhen was one of only a few artists to have scaled the barrier between East and West. Born in Shanghai and educated in Paris, he built bridges between China, Europe and America, influencing an entire generation of young talent. Twenty years after his death, an exhibition honours his legacy in the industrial spaces of the Pirelli Hangar Bicocca with over 20 large installations. In the darkness of the Cubo and the Navate Pirelli, daily objects, such as beds, seats and tables find unusual configurations that launch the senses into a metaphoric dimension. It is the phenomenon of the “short circuit” once theorised by the artist, according to which a work reveals its true significance when it is placed outside its initially intended context. Themes such as the therapeutic power of art, the tie between matter and spirit, cultural contamination, the dialectic between globalisation and tradition, all materialise in a drama stretched out across 5500 square metres. Sometimes the works even need human intervention to activate them - such as with Jue Chang, Dancing Body – Drumming Mind (The Last Song), a monumental musical instrument to be caressed and drummed upon, alluding to the tradition of Chinese massage.
The Human Project brings us on an interdisciplinary journey which retraces the story of the relationship between humans and their artificial doubles, from the first automatons to cyborgs, from androids to the emotional robots of today.