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Photo of the Day: Unironic Selfie Worship at Parkview Green 798

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Our Photo of the Day series this week shares photos of recent openings at 798 and Caochangdi, adjacent creative zones central to Beijing’s contemporary art world.

We close this week’s photo series out with an exhibit for Barcelona-based artist Joan Cornellà at that closed yesterday at Parkview Green Art. The gallery is an offshoot of Parkview Green, an “intelligent building” (codeword for “upscale commercial plaza”) located in Beijing’s Central Business District, and the artist is someone whose work you’ve probably seen if you’ve used social media in the last year.

Cornellà’s schtick is to cannily, sometimes painfully nail the way our obsession with smartphones and selfies is warping our psychological self-image and our relationships with other people and the world around us. He depicts violent and absurd scenarios in an Instagram-ready pallette of bright pinks, oranges and teals, with the classic Cornellian subject matter hitting a note just precisely between visually delightful and conceptually horrifying.

The selfie-taker in particular was singled out for abuse in the works on view at Cornellà’s Beijing solo exhibition — one image shows a guy snapping himself as someone plunges to their death off a high-rise behind him; another shows a cop selfie’ing himself with a prisoner strapped to an electric chair, both smiling wide.

This being an exhibit of famous memes organized by a mall in China, it was of course filled with young viewers gleefully and unselfconsciously taking selfies with the selfie paintings, undoubtedly destined to be re-fed into the Chinese equivalent of the very social networks from which they sprung.

Related:

I’m Having Fun: The Selfie-Taker as a Symbol in Chinese Advertising

Josh Feola
Josh Feola is a Shanghai-based writer and musician, and RADII's Culture Editor. His coverage of Chinese music and art has appeared in The Wire, Dazed, Artsy, LEAP, Tiny Mix Tapes, and more. He's been active in China's underground music scene since 2010 via his booking platform pangbianr.com, and is a former member of Beijing bands Chui Wan, SUBS, and Vagus Nerve.

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