In a universal sense, setting is always an object that can never manage to describe itself. It can only be the target were described and observed. However, in Zhang Hongbo’s art works, the settings are attracting the audience for it’s unique charm, as if they were trying to tell something. Such a special feeling is attributed to the fact that the works have presented a kind of familiar but also strange visual experience. They seem familiar because they are all public, living, political, economic and cultural spaces that urban people will never able to get rid of from. They seem strange because those places always crowded but now people are all missing, and all the setting are changed and to be the target of observation by the audience. In this way, all his art works showing an contradictory ralationship by the 'presence' of settings and the 'absence' of people. Different from most of the conceptual artists who put much emphasis on the narrative of their works, Zhang Hongbo endeavors to change the way of observing, namely people’s set and habitual way of daily observation. In fact, all people know how to 'look', but to be obsveved is constructed. In his art works, the value of 'observing' resides in not only its attempt to ascribe the subject position to 'the settings', but also more importantly, its success in urging the audience to reevaluate the power and mutual dependence existing between themselves and various social spaces as well as their complicated relationships with them.
The Strategy of an Empty City: Zhang Hongbo's Works