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Photography (MA)

Zhiyun Lei

b. in China | Photographer | Filmmaker


2020 - 2022

Photography, MA, Royal College of Art, London, UK

2017 - 2018

Fina Art, Exchange Program, Tourcoing Art Institution of Higher Learning, France

2015 - 2019

Photography, BFA, Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts, China

Exhibition and Award:

2016, the performance artwork “Opisthotonos” was selected to display in Tianjin Experimental Art Exhibition

2017, winner of the scholarship from CSC (China Scholarship Council)

2018, took part in FLEA Art Exhibition in France

2019, winner of the Academy Award of Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts

2019, winner of “New College, New Image” Excellent Work Award of Lishui Photography Festival

2019, winner of the 1839 Photography Award

2021, Participated in and organised the exhibition of "Condensation of Clouds" in London

Show Location: Battersea campus: Dyson & Woo Buildings, First floor

My research focuses on the current status of art in society from the perspective of post-conceptual art by using the notion of “the power of art” as a critical lens to: 1) develop a theory based on hermeneutics, to study the power dynamics of art, 2) analyse the relationship between conceptual art and the hermeneutics and, 3) visually summarise the pre-existing ideology.

Resurrection #12022, Inkjet Print on Vinyl, 225 x 534cm
Resurrection #22022, Inkjet Print on Vinyl, 225 x 579cm

This practice starts within visual ideology. The first stage of the practice is the deconstruction of visual ideology. I used Photoshop to erase all the figures in a reproduction of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling fresco. The second stage of this work is to construct a new visual ideology. I used my body – nude - to replicate every posture of the figures in the original painting.

I believe the body is a powerful ideology, and it is the basic unit of ideology. According to Foucault, ‘the body is not something objective that stands outside of history and culture. Instead, the body has been influenced by work, medicine, diet, exercise, etc’. Therefore, the body is ever-present in a kind of religious depiction. I reconstructed this ancient ideology through the contemporary body to express that 'technology tears men loose from the earth and uproots them'.




225 x 534cm & 225 x 579cm
Sacrifice #12022, Hahnemühle Photo Rag Ultra Smooth, Inkjet print, 70.6 x 56.5cm
Sacrifice #22022, Hahnemühle Photo Rag Ultra Smooth, Inkjet print, 67.4 x 56.5cm

I stripped out the ritual part of the religion and took these photos. I constructed a forest at home with jewellery, screens, sofas and other artefacts with natural elements. I believe those artefacts embody human beings' primitive desire for nature. Because it is difficult for people in contemporary society to return to nature for a long time. In most cases, we live in cities. Therefore, people project their desire for nature on to these handicrafts with natural elements.




70.6 x 56.5cm & 67.4 x 56.5cm