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Ni, Haifeng

b. 1964, Zhoushan, China; lives and works in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Para-Production, 2008 Textile shreds, sewing machines, work in progress, variable dimensions. 

Para-Production harks back to an earlier piece, Return of the Shreds (2007), first exhibited at the Stedelijk Museum de Lakenhal in Leiden, and which consists of several tons of discarded fabric trimmings that originated from Chinese factories. For Para-Production, these cloth residues are all sewn together into a single, massive piece. Ni undermines normal viewing habits with his reversal of the teleology of production, transforming something useful into something useless. Para-Production not only refers to reuse and reproduction within our global economy but also challenges consumption, and the endlessness, mutability and instability of the capitalist system. Like its antecedent, Para-Production acknowledges China’s place at the epicentre of global manufacturing, as well as the connection between colonialism and globalisation. Electing not to produce something useful, the artist foregrounds the actual process of production instead of the end product. In addition to the fabric itself, the installation also includes sewing machines and numerous seamstresses tasked with sewing the cloth shreds together. The process of transporting the work also constitutes an integral part of the piece, as shipping it across borders involves reckoning with the conditions of importation for objects such as manufactured clothes. Para-Production thus stands as a mediator between different languages and cultures. The result is a product of human labour, which contrasts the inefficiency and endlessness of collective production in our times with the productivity and potentiality of the working masses. DH