Body Against Classism
Nov 30, 2018 Friday 19:00 - 20:30
Rockbund Art Museum (Shanghai 20 Huqiu Road, Huangpu District)
Around the turn of the millennium, a major debate erupted in contemporary Chinese art, one which would lead a long-lasting influence on the understanding of performance and the body. The debate arose out of several works and exhibitions that involved the human body and animals (dead or alive) as the material and theme. These works and exhibitions originally aimed to attack, from a radical standpoint, a conceptualism becoming more methodological by the day and a fast-standardizing exhibition format. Works dealing with the human body and with animals rapidly became the focus of attention, with reports and discussions about similar works and exhibitions spreading right across the country. And thus an experimental creativity directed at the extreme margins was very quickly rendered as a “pissing contest” to see who could pander most to the crowds. In the end, this caused all performance- and body-based experimental art to be viewed as preposterous cheap thrills in the public eye.
Recent year, with the popularity of live broadcast applications, there are numerous videos uploaded by people from underclass on the internet, which often involved a variety of discomforting bodily performances, including all kinds of self-abuse, violence, eating various (weird) objects, forced tattooing, and excessive bodybuilding. Some critics and researchers consider the body is the only productive resource of the proletariat, the only means to shake off poverty that they themselves manage; it is their way to distinguish themselves from the upper classes, or in other words, to define themselves through differences in class identity. This is the case for performers on live broadcast apps as much as it is for artists. The commentators from different fields have raised such a tragic, cruel horizon of class illustrates the degree to which such views have become influential in contemporary culture. I t so happens that we can use this to guide they way, to search out what the values most urgently needed in today’s art are: whether artists can provide us with a different outlook, to let us glimpse both the actual, inescapable conditions of class, and at the same time, to create the possibility of a worldview and positive significance that classism cannot determine.
Anthony Yung is a writer and curator. He is currently Senior Researcher at the Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong.
As art activities proliferate, performance and performing arts are evermore presented to the public, notably seen in art museums across recent years. The series of lectures of “Spectrum of Performance(ing) Arts” is not designed to invent some new vocabulary or definition, or to inquire “What is Performance (Performing)?”, but to examine how art in an unbound state flows and mutates into a spectrum with colorful connotations and more possibilities. It looks forward to the confluence and interaction of different realms of art, discussions from the artist, curator, researcher and scholar perspectives on issues such as the role of the platform, methods of artistic creation, ways of watching performances, the concept of curating, and the development of performance art and performing art under the globalization framework, as well as more dialogues in unexpected aspects between the speakers and audience.
This series of lectures is jointly initiated by RAM and Zhang Bing, an independent curator, and supported by Shanghai Artemis Art Center.
This lecture is co-organized by iPANDA and NMG.
Shanghai Artemis Art Center (SAAC), funded by Anxin Trust Co., Ltd. and approved for registration by Shanghai Bureau of Civil Administration, was established officially on June 6, 2016 as a non-profit art institution.
SAAC aims at promoting the production and development of modern arts, through hosting, supporting and assisting non-profit artistic activities of various forms, including but not limited to art exhibitions, publications, public projects, artistic research, academic discussion, art curating, criticism and writing.
Free admission, reservation is required.