Inspiration Thursday: Zhang Huan

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.

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Art in Mexico: The Raven

Last semester the professor in my Art in Contemporary Society class help curate a couple shows. One of the shows was a Day of the Dead exhibition in Oaxaca, Mexico. The professor presented the opportunity for students in the class to create an 8 x 10 print in the medium of their choice for the show. The only other restrictions was that it had to cover the content of Edgar Allen Poe’s the Raven, and only have black, white, and red as the colors.

Not wanting to miss out on being exhibited in an international show I submitted the work above. I hadn’t read the Raven… ever, actually. It had been read to me in middle school, but I had never actually sat down and read the poem for myself. Quite frightening to day the least. The mediums I used are acrylic paint, india ink, and crayon. I was really happy with the final composition considering I knocked it out in half an hour after reading the poem before class. Sometimes not spending too much time thinking about it results in great work.

Today I’m not sure where the print it is. I know that it was well recieved in Mexico and the show was supposed to tour around the country to a couple of schools. I don’t know if my print is still touring or not, and with the upheavel present in Mexico at the moment I don’t know if I will ever get it back. I’m really glad I scanned a copy before I sent it away. I have tried to contact the professor to see what the status is to no avail so I suppose I’m just going to have to make time to catch him in his office. Wish me luck ^_^