Skip to content

The Nail

Jiang Zhi

Release year: 2007

Run time: 75 mins

Film type: Documentary


In March 2007, a two storey red brick building in Yangjiaping in Chongqing suddenly became famous. A run down building measuring approximately twenty meters located in a ten thousand square metre, 17-metre deep pit. A real estate developer cut off the water, electricity and gas in the building, and also did away with an exit. It stood alone as a monument. A scene like this is visually compelling; photographs were posted on the internet and caused a tremendous stir. It gained the support of countless citizens and caught the attention of the international media. It was labelled as the most “Acclaimed Nail Household in History.” The reason it caught people’s attention was its exemplary function in the contexts of past and future; it will be remembered as an epic model in the history of property law in China. This is how the “Nail Household” sturdily hammered itself into the history of Chinese urbanization. By the end of March 2007, a few days before this most “Acclaimed Nail Household in History” was demolished, Jiang Zhi rushed to the site with his camera and other equipments, mingling with the onlookers and the media, overwhelmed and squeezed in the crowd. The documentary Nail shows all sorts of energies emitting.


Director biography

Widely regarded as one of the most versatile Chinese artists of his generation, Jiang Zhi works with a wide range of media, including photography, painting, video and installation as well as publishing volumes of fiction and poetry. Consistently engaging with contemporary social and cultural issues, Jiang consciously positions himself at the intersection of poetics and sociology, whilst weaving everyday social and personal experience into his works. His practice explores the problematic conditions of modern consciousness, looking to complex computer imagery for stimulation. His manipulated images which combine reality with hi-tech digital imagery represent and revisit our perceived present and the mental conceptions we bring to it. His photograph of the Chongqing House, known colloquially as the ‘House of Nails’, is representative of Jiang’s work, where a neon light floods a house of which the owners refuse to leave, despite the demolition of their neighbourhood. Jiang Zhi was born in 1971 in Yuanjiang, China. He graduated from China Academy of Art in 1995 and lives and works in Beijing. He has had major solo retrospectives at Chinese institutions such as OCAT Shenzhen and the Times Museum in Guangzhou in addition to Sifang Art Museum, White Cube Hong Kong and Magician Space Beijing and has exhibited at international institutions and biennials including the Guggenheim Museum, New York, M+ Museum Hong Kong, the 9th Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai Power Station of Art, the 4th Guangzhou Triennial, Guangdong Art Museum, ICP and Asia Society New York, the 50th Biennale di Venezia, the 4th Gwangju Biennale. Jiang Zhi was awarded the Chinese Contemporary Art Award, the Academic Award of Reshaping History, and the Credit Suisse Today Art Award.