Far Away, From Home, 2024

Far Away, From Home, an image-based sculpture, is part of Zhang’s ongoing inquiry into the complexities of home, immigration, identity politics, diaspora, and queerness in the public sphere. Responding to the Chinese zodiac Year of the Dragon in 2024, Zhang re-interprets a curio cabinet reminiscent of furniture from the artist’s childhood home in Hunan, China. The shelving unit is filled up with backlit photographs of “tattooed” latex balloons on one side, and their paper collage doppelgängers on the opposite side.  It also features laser-etched panels highlighting scenes from Huaniaohua, a traditional type of Chinese Bird-and-Flower Painting, as well as etchings of the original tattoo imagery Zhang used on the latex balloons. The four supporting legs are modeled after balusters in porch railings and stairways that Zhang has encountered over the past year in Massachusetts. 

The title of this installation takes inspiration from the essay “Far Away, From Home: The Comma Between” by filmmaker and writer Trinh T. Minh-ha. Exploring Trinh’s musings on otherness as both “a site of return” and “a site of change,” the artist asks: “How can I map queer desires onto the tapestry of an ever evolving home? To what extent do the intertwined threads of my native and adopted cultures become blurred and indistinguishable? How can I complicate the experience of living in a state of liminality and in-betweenness without essentializing it?”

By displaying a domestic cabinet-like installation in the heart of Chinatown, Zhang’s work recreates an act of displacement embedded with counter narratives of resistance and resilience against flatness and simplistic interpretations. Far Away, From Home offers a patchy, slippery, and disorienting aesthetic experience with the hope of prioritizing care, queer joy, and openness while troubling the binary systems that limit who we can be and what we can build together.

Photos by Zhidong Zhang

Photos by Lee-Daniel Tran

  • Zhidong Zhang is an artist, educator, and plant lover. Their practice explores social, political, cultural, and sexual relationships among the institution, the body, and modes of embodiment. Working primarily with photography, text and installation their work negotiates and creates narratives where image-making becomes a form of history-making. Zhang’s practice and process invites alternative, autonomous modes of identity construction through/by/via metabolizing bodies that are often overlooked, eroticized, or politicized.

    Zhang’s work has appeared in i-D Magazine, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Boston Art Review, among others. Recent awards include the 2023 Creator Labs Photo Fund, the Collective Futures Fund 2023, and a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship in 2021. They were a participant at the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, an artist-in-residence at MASS MoCA, Center for Photography at Woodstock, and Boston Center for the Arts. Zhidong currently lives and works in Boston, MA.

  • The Greenway Public Art Program is exclusively funded through grants and private sources, including the generous support of The Barr Foundation, the Deborah Munroe Noonan Memorial Fund, Goulston & Storrs, Meet Boston, and the Wagner Foundation.

    Far Away, From Home was made possible with additional support from TD Charitable Foundation.

     

  • The Greenway is a contemporary public park in the heart of Boston. The Greenway welcomes millions of visitors annually to gather, play, unwind, and explore. The Greenway Conservancy is the non-profit responsible for the management and care of The Greenway. The majority of the public park’s annual budget is generously provided by private sources.

    The Greenway Conservancy’s Public Art Program brings innovative and contemporary art to Boston through free exhibitions that engage people in meaningful experiences and dialogue with art, each other, and the most pressing issues of our time. Past Greenway exhibitions can be viewed on the Conservancy’s website