He Yunchang: Worldly Fate

“Worldly Fate”: He Yunchang Solo Exhibition

White Box Museum of Art (798 Art District Of No. B07, Jiuxianqiao Road, Road No. 2, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China.) Mar 22–Apr 21, 2014

Those with strong stomachs and an interest in the continuation of Chinese performance art should see “Worldly Fate”—the solo exhibition by He Yunchang currently on show at the White Box Museum of Art in 798. He Yunchang has for twenty years been using his own body as a medium; indeed, he is somewhat alone in persisting with aggressive physical acts carried out upon himself as a medium for expression (his contemporary Zhang Huan, for example, has long since turned to less body-orientated practice). The texts accompanying the show present He Yunchang’s work in terms of “a physical proclamation that reminds us of the burdens imposed on the physical body”, and suggest that, for He’s audience, this is “an occasion to fully abandon arrogant concepts of art.”

In what is a shockingly graphic show, in places, a selection of He’s performance works are in evidence through photographs—and small blood stains on the floor. The day before the opening, the artist assembled a group of ten naked women, and asked surgeons to make sixteen incisions in his body. The blood collected from the wound was then applied to their finger and toe nails like polish. This piece, “The Spring” is characteristic of the determination, stamina, nakedness, drama and physical trauma seen across He’s practice—symptoms which amount to a repeated affirmation; in the words of the artist, interviewed in 2009: “After a performance work is over, I always think that every second in life is more valuable than gold.”

He Yunchang following the performance of “The Spring.” Photo: Ye Yuanfeng, White Box Museum of Art
行为表演《春天》之后的何云昌本人。摄影:Ye Yuanfeng,白盒子艺术馆。
Photographic documentation of the artist during the opening performance of “The Spring” by He Yunchang at White Box Museum of Art

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *