Cheng Ran‘Diary of a Madman: Trilogy’, 2018

Artist Cheng Ram was a guest of Outset Bialik Residency during December 2016. Following this residency and research trip to Israel, Cheng Ran has presented the exhibition “Diary of a Madman: Trilogy”, curated by Xiaohui Guo and Silia Ka Tung, at the Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv. Furthermore, the third part of this trilogy was shot in Jerusalem.

“Diary of a Madman: Trilogy” is the first solo exhibition by Chinese artist Cheng Ran is Israel. This exhibition is also the first time this complete trilogy is presented to the public, providing a unique opportunity to understand Cheng’s oeuvre and diverse range of subjects.


Presented in this exhibition is a selection of videos from “Diary of a Madman: New York” (exhibited at the New Museum, New York, 2016) to “Diary of a Madman: Chow Chow and the Hawk” (exhibited at Oil Street Art Space, Hong Kong, 2017). It will also include the last chapter of the trilogy: a large three-channel projection entitled “Diary of a Madman: Jerusalem,” as well as an installation of around 500 photographs taken by Cheng during his residency in Israel.


This new chapter, shot in Jerusalem, is narrated in Chinese and Hebrew and tells a story whose central theme is “the self.” The title of the work is a direct reference to the short story “Diary of a Madman” (1918) by one of China’s founding modernist authors, Lu Xun (1881-1936), which was narrated in first-person and arranged as dairy entries. It tells the story of a mentally challenged man who believes all those around him have become cannibalistic, plotting to prey on him. Similarly, in Cheng’s work, first-person narrative and a profound sense of loss, alienation, and madness run throughout its course.


Since his last epic nine-hour long video work entitled “In Course of the Miraculous” (2016), Cheng has increasingly become interested in the idea of “otherness,” relationships between time and urban environment, and the meaning of language. Inspired by a diverse range of sources, from the internet and advertising to political affairs and obscure mythical events, Cheng is capable of developing a poetic language that channels both the existentialist internal world and the externally “other.”


Cheng Ran (*1981, Inner Mongolia, China; lives and works in Hangzhou, China) is one of the most promising Chinese artists of his generation. Cheng’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at MAC in Belfast, the New Museum in New York, K11 Art Foundation in Hong Kong, YUAN Space in Beijing, Armada in Milan, Video Bureau in Guangzhou, China, UCCA in Beijing, Leo Xu Projects in Shanghai, and Galerie Urs Meile, Lucerne, Switzerland and Beijing. His work has been included in group exhibitions such as “In Course of the Miraculous,” at Kino der Kunst in Munich, “The World Precedes the Eye,” at ICA Singapore, the 14th Istanbul Biennial, “Inside China: L’Intérieur du Géant,” at Palais de Tokyo in Paris, “Model Home,” at the Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai, “Video Art in China” at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, and “Elektrische Schatten China Video Festival” at the Salzburg Museum of Modern Art, Austria.


Cheng Ran


CCA Tel Aviv