Installation view of Tao Hui’s <em>Being Wild</em> on display in NGV Triennial from 3 December 2023 to 7 April 2024 at NGV International, Melbourne. Photo: Sean Fennessy<br/>

Tao Hui

Photo: Mark Poucher

Tao Hui
China born 1987

Level 1
NGV International
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What remains real once screen culture has infiltrated our memories? Raised in a rural village in Chongqing municipality, China, Tao Hui grew up watching television dramas from Taiwan and Hong Kong on the family TV. The screen was his window to the outside world. Drawing on tropes from popular media, Being wild probes the relationship between media memory and our social realities, in a rapidly accelerating world. In Being wild, a young woman rollerskates through near- empty streets, along the Pearl River in Guangzhou, through a film set recreating colonial Old Shanghai of the 1920s and 1930s, and through what could be the site of the Forbidden City, or its replica. Rollerskating was introduced in China in the 1980s. In Being wild, it is a metaphor for the speed of the country’s economic acceleration following the introduction of the 1978 ‘open door’ policy. As the woman roams these sites, which recall historical dramas, she sings songs by 1980s Taiwanese folk-pop singers Tai Zhao-Mei and Wang Hai-Ling, interspersed with her own poetic aphorisms. In Mandarin Chinese, the video work is titled 奔放 (bēnfàng) after the song by Tai Zhao-Mei, translating to ‘free and uninhibited’. Being wild’s protagonist rollerskates to escape, in search of a bygone era, but finds instead the fallibility of personal and collective memory.

Born in Yunyang, Chongqing, and a graduate from Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, Tao Hui currently lives and works in Beijing, China. With a degree in oil painting, Tao has more recently traversed into the art of installation and video. Drawing from personal memories and popular culture, Tao Hui’s video and installation works play with experimental visual narration and explore the collective experience. He often explores social identity, gender, ethnicity and cultural crisis, prompting the audience to face their own cultural histories.

Purchased, NGV Foundation, 2022