Zhang Huan is a contemporary artist, primarily involved in performance art. Over the past couple years he has flitted in and out of my perceptions, but this last semester I learned about him in much more detail.
The work that brought Huan into the spotlight for the contemporary art world was 12 square meters (1994). While living in a rundown house in a small provencial town outside Beijing, Huan decided to create a performance commenting on the conditions of where he was living. The rental only cost him .75 cents a month and contained a shared bathroom with no door or running water.
He sat naked for 2 hours covered in honey (or sugar water depending on the source you read), and fish sauce while flies slowly became stuck to him in the public bathroom. He did not move for the entire time, except to blink the flies away. After the 2 hours he walked to the nearby pond, which was also highly polluted, and walked until he was completely submerged. In photographs documenting the performance you can see the swarm of dead flies floating around his head, which had previously been attached to him.
All of Huan’s works comment on the world around him through taking his body and consciousness to the extremes. His body of work reminds me of other performance artists such as Marina Abromovic, and artists from the Gutai movement in Japan.
The information for this post was abbreviated from my Art in China lecture at University of Colorado with professor Park.